China recently announced that they are tightening online video gaming restrictions for children under the age of 18. Under the new rules, online video gaming will be limited to a maximum of 3 hours per week (I know right?!) and can only be played between 8pm and 9pm Friday-Sunday or on official holidays. In the wake of this announcement, I’ve been thinking: how much screen time is healthy and how do parents put boundaries around screen time during extended periods of lockdown?
With this in mind, here are my top 3 tips for managing screentime during the lockdown.
- Limit screentime based on game type: With limited opportunities for socialisation during the lockdown, many children use online gaming as a means to communicate and play with their friends. Additionally, many games require the child to use their creativity and to utilise their cognitive thinking. Try to limit games that don’t serve this purpose, rather than those that do.
- Set reasonable screentime boundaries: Rather than banning online gaming altogether, set boundaries around what time of the day the child can play, for how long and what is required of them before they can play online games. For example, first they need to complete their school work, spend half an hour playing outside or use their screens after school and before dinner only.
- Optimal screentime varies from child to child: The Australian government recommends that children aged 5-17 years should have no more than two hours of screen time per day (not including schoolwork). I think it’s fair to say that COVID-19, online learning and extended periods of lockdown allow for more leniency! Limit screen time based on the individual characteristics of your child – notice how online gaming affects their mood, sleep, their schoolwork or concentration levels and adjust accordingly.