#AskATeacher - Screen Time

You asked, we listened. Through text and video, National Teachers of the Year respond to your questions and concerns about managing screen time and other technology concerns.

See More Parent Questions
  • How can students (safely) participate in peer-to-peer study groups online? They need that social interaction but also need to be motivated to stay on topic and learn. -- April, Lawrenceville, GA, children in 3rd and 5th grades

  • How do I keep my child from being distracted while on Zoom lessons? -- Patricia, San Pedro, CA, children in Pre-K and 1st grade

    • Tabatha Rosproy, 2020 National Teacher of the Year: Little bodies struggle to sit still for long periods of time– that is normal!  Give your children choices like standing, lying on their tummies, or sitting where they can be comfortable. Then, set a visual timer to help them regulate the time they are expected to focus. Show them the timer (either digital, or a kitchen timer, or a sand timer), and set your expectations early, “I am going to set this timer for 5 minutes. Then, you can choose a new place to sit/stand/work.” Let them move every 5-7 minutes. I like to give children two choices, as not to overwhelm them and help them feel in control, such as, “You can stand up or move to the floor, which one is best for you?” Post images of what the expectations are, and when, on Zoom lessons. For example, eyes on the screen, quiet voice, listening ears. Review expectations for every session.

  • How can I help my daughter develop friendships with other students when learning is exclusively online? -- Guillermo, Bronx, NY, child in 1st grade

  • How can we supplement what is being taught in remote learning that doesn't add to technology fatigue? -- Kristen, Elmhurst, IL, children in 1st, 2nd, and 4th grades

    • Chris Dier, M.A., Ed. M., 2020 Louisiana Teacher of the Year: If you’re able, try to get a hold of physical materials. Schedule frequent breaks from the screen and go outside. Give their eyes a rest from technology by supplementing learning with books, hands-on activities or nature walks and real-world field trips. Check Spotify and Librivox for free audio children’s books. Go outside and do activities they enjoy (playing sports, hopscotch, or even going for walks). Plenty of science experiments that can be conducted at home with household materials. Not all learning has to match the curriculum of the school; cook together, learn an instrument, play board games, or create arts and crafts projects. Remaining social is equally crucial. Lastly, old fashioned paper and pencil can go a long way with a child who is still learning fundamentals.

  • There's been a lot of technical difficulties on my kids' zoom classes. My kids get frustrated and irritated. What can we do to support them? -- Claudia, Katy, TX, child in 7th grade

  • How can we better separate technology as a learning tool from the same technology as a gaming, entertainment, and social media tool? Our child’s entire world is through 24/7 engagement with an iPad. -- Gregory, Wilmette, IL, child in 8th grade

    • Chris Dier, M.A., Ed. M., 2020 Louisiana Teacher of the Year: This is a challenge we are all facing with virtual learning in the digital age. It’s important to set up a schedule, with their input, and establish consistent, clear expectations. Teenagers do well with set plans and knowing exactly what is expected of them, especially during a time of ambiguity. In this schedule, set a time of the day where the iPad is to only be used for educational purposes, and be clear on what those purposes entail. Then, create a time where the iPad could be used for entertainment purposes: social media, gaming, or watching videos. Help them stay on this schedule as much as possible. Remember, while structure is important, it doesn’t have to be perfect as we should all be giving our children grace during this time. And don’t forget to give yourself grace as you navigate this as well.

  • My child often shuts down and gets frustrated after too long in front of the screen. How can I help? -- Holly, Fort Lauderdale, FL, child in 2nd grade

  • We have noticed that our school is not offering art, PE, or music during distance learning. Are there resources for doing these at home that are not online? -- Sandy, Beaver Creek, OH, child in 5th grade

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