Screen time and digital wellbeing

Getting the right balance of screen time and digital wellbeing.

Screen time lets children learn and develop new skills at a touch of a button. But how do we manage their screen time and digital wellbeing? There’s lots of benefits for children and young people going online. It gives them access to a wealth of information and lets them communicate with friends. Plus it can keep them entertained for hours!

Screen time and digital wellbeing

But too much of it can have a negative impact on their wellbeing. According to UNICEF, 1 in 3 internet users are under 18. And the latest report of media use by Ofcom shows that worryingly 40% of parents struggled to control their child’s screen time. During the Covid-19 pandemic, screen time increased for lots of us. And since then it’s remained a huge part of people’s lives.

Depending on what a child does and how long they spend online, it can impact their feelings, behaviour and health (both mentally and physically). We need to make sure we help them find the right balance so it can stay a positive experience for everyone.

What is screen time?

We often think of screen time as the time spent on a smartphone, but really it covers any digital device including tablets, computers, TVs and games consoles!

Whether it’s at school or work, or at home for entertainment and enjoyment, most of us will spend some time in front of a screen during the day. Screen time. According to Common Sense Media, there’s four main categories of screen time:

  • Passive: mindlessly watching videos/shows or scrolling through social media on autopilot.
  • Interactive: playing games and problem solving.
  • Communication: using social media or talking over video calls.
  • Content creation: making digital art, music or coding.

How much screen time is OK?

This is a tricky one! There’s been lots of research about the impacts of screen time and digital wellbeing, there’s no set amount of screen time that’s perfect for all children. Instead we need to look at quality over quantity.

As teachers, you might see some signs that a child is being impacted by spending too much time online:

  • Are they distracted and struggling to focus?
  • Are they often tired or sleepy?
  • Are they emotional or upset?

These signs might not necessarily be caused by excess screen time, but it’s important to follow your school’s safeguarding procedures if you’re concerned about a student. Our first top tip is to familairse yourself with the DfE’s Keeping children safe in education framework.

Why not ask your students how they feel if they’ve been online for too long? Teaching them to recognise the warning signs (such as needing to charge their devices frequently, devices feeling hot to the touch or experiencing symptoms like headaches or muscle aches) can help them to find a healthy balance. Lots of devices also have settings to manage screen time. You can often set screen time limits or reminders to have a break.

What is digital wellbeing?

Digital wellbeing is all about how the internet and technology makes us feel. Being online and using electronic devices can impact our both mental and physical health, so we need to be able to recognise when it’s affecting us in a negative way.

Online resources for schools and trusts.

Schools will sometimes see children who experience the extremes of screen time. Some parents will set very strict limits on screen time and device usage, whereas others won’t have any restrictions or boundaries. There’s lots of things that can impact our digital wellbeing. And even though the amount of screen time a child has is ultimately down to the parents or carers, there’s things we can do in schools to help with a child’s digital wellbeing.

There’s some great resources online for teachers, parents and carers. For example, we’d recommend having a look at:

Our school broadband, safeguarding and security has been designed with children’s online safety in mind. Although we can’t control how much time your students are spending online at home, our super school filtering can help prevent them from seeing anything nasty when they’re on your network. Plus it complies with KCSIE, Prevent Duty, Internet Watch and national standards too! And our proactive monitoring gives you the confidence that your students’ online behaviours are being monitored. So if a student becomes at high risk of harm to themselves or others, you can act straight away.

Just get in touch with us and we can have a chat about how we can help your school or trust keep your students safe!

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