6 Experts Share Productive Screen Time Tips for Kids

This post is an excerpt from our Digital Citizenship Conference in Los Angeles. The conference was a rich environment for educators, law enforcement officers and parents to openly discuss issues and solutions for helping students shine in the digital world. All of the content from the Digital Citizenship Conference is available as a Virtual Replay Ticket.

Here are the experts who contributed to this blog:

Caren Rich

Caren Rich, Psy.D.
Ed. Consultant
Weinfeld Ed. Group

Lori Getz

Lori Getz
Cyber Ed. Specialist
Cyber Ed. Cons.

Bernadette Lucas

Bernadette Lucas
Director of Tech
Beverly Hills USD

Dr. Tracy Bennett

Dr. Tracy Bennett
CEO and Creator

Alexandria Abramian

Alexandria Abramian
Content Director

Mercedes Samudio

Mercedes Samudio
Parenting Coach
The Parenting Skill

6 Experts Share Productive Screen Time Tips for Kids

In this panel discussion, 6 experts share how to start a dialogue on productive screen time with students and ways families can use tech together

Here are some key takeaways from the Productive Screen Time for Kids panel:

  • Teach students to make productive choices when parents aren’t around
  • More valuable than any monitoring system is a dialogue with your student about making productive choices during their screen time. Give your students the tools to make positive decisions without guidance.

  • Consider the ways you can use technology as a family
  • Many times parents worry that bringing devices to a family outing will lead to a less engaging experience. Instead, try to find ways you can use technology together as a family. Consider playing mobile games as a family, using your device to learn about the things you encounter during your outing and more.

  • It’s important to maintain a balance
  • Whether at home, or in the classroom, it is important to remember that students need a balance. At home, the balance between technology and playing outside should be considered. In the classroom it’s important to balance tech and hand-written learning.

What actually is productive screen time? What does it mean?

Productive screen time for my population on the Autism spectrum is instructional so that may mean that devices connected to the screen pull up instruction and programming that my children need. –Caren Rich, Psy.D., Weinfeld Education Group

Determine how screen time is connecting you to your goals as a learner. –Bernadette Lucas

When I think of productive screen time, I think about purpose. What is the purpose of using the technology? Screen time is oftentimes instructional or entertainment-based. However, an important conversation to have is one where you determine how screen time is connecting you to your goals as a learner. This helps kids learn how to make choices when the parents are not around. –Bernadette Lucas, Beverly Hills Unified School District

Don’t just look at the apps that are “educational,” but look for apps that ask kids to be creative. –Alex Abramian

Separate higher quality apps and websites from lower quality options, look at whether or not these apps and websites are creative or whether they are purely passive consumption. Don’t just look at the apps that are “educational,” but look for apps that ask kids to be creative. –Alex Abramian, Forcefield

There are a lot of schools now that are using screens as part of their educational environment in the school or as part of the homework process? How do we handle that situation and keep kids safe?

Understand the ergonomics and health issues related to using these devices all day long in the classroom. –Lori Getz

Understand the ergonomics and health issues related to using these devices all day long in the classroom. Including technology in the classroom is extremely beneficial, however we have to teach students to look away from their device every fifteen minutes and to sit with their feet flat on the floor. Ergonomics matter, especially for young kids whose muscles and bones are still developing. –Lori Getz, Cyber Education Consultants

At home, try and balance technology and outside play. –Caren Rich, Psy.D.

Assignments are now put online and parents have to engage with their kids in order to find out what the assignments are. Classwork is balanced between technology and handwritten. At home, try and balance technology and outside play. –Caren Rich, Psy.D., Weinfeld Education Group

Students need to know that if they have to go online to get their assignments, that they have to learn how not to stay focused. Students should not spend time on YouTube or get sucked into watching a Netflix show when they are working on an online assignment. Students need to have all of the components come together of spending time outside, of exercising, of eating well, etc. It has to be balanced. –Lori Getz, Cyber Education Consultants

How we can collaborate with technology to build a connection with our kids?

Strive to have a strong, fun, connection with your children that includes an ongoing dialogue. –Dr. Tracy Bennett

Strive to have a strong, fun, connection with your children that includes an ongoing dialogue; one of the best ways to achieve that connection is with tech. If children see us as a partner in tech, then we can keep the conversation open. Remember that the partnership between tech and your connection with your child is the most important. –Dr. Tracy Bennett, GetKidsInternetSafe

Life should be powered by technology, not technology powered by life. At my school when I was the Principal, we had a huge gardening initiative. The kids and the teachers would document their gardening experience using technology; technology did not drive the gardening experience. Focus on using your passion to power your use of technology. –Bernadette Lucas, Beverly Hills Unified School District

Pokemon Go was a great game that I was able to play with my son. There were so many things that we had driven by a million times and never noticed. We would park the car and get out to explore together, since the app is all about engaging. Another app is iMovie, which is an app that everyone from 8-year-olds to 18-year-olds can use. iMovie, is the quintessential creative app that really provides a tool where kids can work collaboratively. –Alex Abramian, Forcefield

A popular thing for parents to say is “leave the device at home”. For example, if you are going for a hike as a family, consider bringing along a device that you can use to learn more about the plants and animals you encounter. This allows you to still use devices and stay engaged with each other without feeling like everyone is staring at their screens. –Mercedes Samudio, The Parenting Skill

How do we talk about that public space that is the Internet?

The truth is that we have multiple identities now. Now we have our non-virtual identities and our virtual identities and our kids are also dividing their identities in many different ways. It has made things more complex for our kids and technology can be very beneficial but I think it’s important to be aware of what kind of strain that puts on our kids. –Dr. Tracy Bennett, GetKidsInternetSafe

Telling stories and using case studies with kids makes a huge difference. It’s a very vulnerable place for adults to put themselves in, to share stories or examples of when they have compromised their own privacy and what the consequences have been. Sharing with students examples of other kids who have made decisions or judgement calls that have resulted in negative consequences is really important. –Bernadette Lucas, Beverly Hills Unified School District

You want children to know that if someone is important to them, they are important to you too whether they met them at school, at church, at a sporting event, or online. You want to make sure that you know who is in their life. –Lori Getz, Cyber Education Consultants

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