How to manage the screens in the house

Comment gérer les écrans à la maison

Notice to parents worried about the ubiquity of screens in the lives of their children in this period of isolation : the important point is not necessarily the time spent in front of a screen, but rather what they do there, ” says neuropsychologist Johanne Lévesque.

“The screens, this wasn’t easy. But then, it explodes ! “Francesca is a mother of two girls 8 and 11 years old, Nina and Anaë. Private contract in television and film production, she is at home on leave forced. The management of the screens has become another source of stress that adds to his daily life already turned upside-down.

“And I know well that it is even worse for parents who must try to work out at home !” she says.

“State of stress”

Anaë, “rather depressed” to be deprived of her friends, is hooked on to social networks “as a lifeline,” says his mother. And Nina has initiated the chat to keep in touch with his friends and his teacher.

At this time screen in addition to the hours spent listening to movies or tv, to do educational activities online and to draw on a software of illustration, the main hobby of Anaë who finds the time long.

“It’s been more screens than ever before, and it puts us in a state of stress. The second you’re no longer next to them, they will escape to go on a screen “, says Francesca.

FaceTime or Fortnite

However, according to the neuropsychologist, Johanne Lévesque, he must first of all distinguish the type of activity carried out on the screen.

“Do math online, or FaceTime with a friend, it doesn’t have the same effect as playing Fortnite “, she says.

Video games can be much more damaging to the brains of young people than other types of activity on the screen. Ideally, the same rules should apply, even in confinement period : thirty minutes for children of primary school age and a time for the youth of the secondary, ” says Ms. Lévesque.

If it is impossible, in this exceptional period, to attempt to enforce this rule, the neuropsychologist suggests then to allow her young to play online longer, provided that it is activated physically before.

“It’s going to somewhat reverse the damage created by video games. It is a bit like an antidote that is not perfect, but makes a nice difference, ” she says.

The impacts of social networks are more limited, but to further mitigate, Dr. Levesque recommends to focus on the video rather than the chat. “Otherwise, we anchor among the young even more deeply the fact that they no longer communicate globally, for real, with all that it means,” she said.

With regard to educational activities, Ms. Lévesque sees “no problem” to a young person spends several hours on the screen to do science or French. However, it is important not to completely ignore the paper and the pencil, which allow the anchoring of learning.

Exceptional Situation

In general, it is best to also clearly explain to the youth that the relaxation of family rules around the screens in the home is related to the exceptional situation that we live in.

“Otherwise, the return to normal could be hard to justify,” says Ms. Levesque, particularly among adolescents.

Tips on how to manage screens in family

Video games : attention, danger

  • The negative impacts of video games are well documented.
  • Ideally, the rules remain the same in the period of isolation.
  • Maximum recommended time per day : 30 minutes for 6-12-year-olds and 1 hour for 12-17-year-olds.

Swapping the physical activity against the online game

  • For families who must balance work and family every day, you can barter extra time video game against a period of physical activity.

Friends on the screen : in the video rather than the keyboard

  • To favour exchanges with friends in the video rather than the keyboard to promote a more “true” than the chat.

School online : do not forget paper and pencil

  • The online educational activities do not cause the same adverse effects as video games. There is no problem to spend four hours doing math or sciences online, for example. However, don’t forget to include educational activities to do on the good old paper, pencil in hand, for that children continue to write regularly at home.

Schedule time without the screen

  • A daily schedule that includes moments without a screen can be a good way to build tags all day long.

No screen before the dodo

  • No matter the online activity, it is better to turn off the screens one hour before bedtime.

 Source : Johanne Lévesque, neuropsychologist

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