Why shared screen time is good for you and your child
Using screens with your child has the same benefits as doing any enjoyable activity together. It:
builds your relationship
helps your child get the most out of the activity
gives you both the opportunity to learn new things.
And, of course, shared screen time with your child can be fun!
Using screen time to build your relationship with your child
Playing a game or watching a show together lets you turn screen time into family time. This means it can be a good balance for solo screen use.
Even more importantly, when you watch television or videos and play games or apps with your child, it shows you care about things that matter to your child. It sends a simple message – you’re important to me.
Helping your child get the most out of screen time
Your child benefits most from screen time when you watch and play together. It’s also important to help your child make connections between what they’re watching and playing and their own life.
For example, if you’re watching a television show, movie or YouTube video together, you could talk together about how the characters behave and treat each other:
Is that respectful behaviour? Would you like someone to treat you that way?
Is that a safe thing to do? What would you do if one of your friends did that?
What would happen if someone did that in real life?
Shared screen time can also help you start conversations about difficult topics like bullying, relationships, drug use and so on.
When you play or watch with your child, you can get your child in the habit of thinking about what’s on the screen rather than just passively watching. For example, you can sit with your child while your child plays a game or watches a show and ask questions like:
How do you play this game?
What happens when you move there?
Why do you think this game has in-app purchases?
What’s the point of this YouTube video?
Why is the person showing that product?
Using screen time to learn new things
Children learn best from real-world experiences like social time with family and friends, physical play, playing outside, reading and creative play.
So when you share screen time with your child, it becomes an interactive, real-world experience that your child can learn from. For example, if you:
talk about what’s happening in the show or game, your child can learn new words
play a multiplayer game, your child can learn social skills like turn-taking and cooperation
try some coding together on a children’s coding site like Scratch, your child can learn some new technical skills.
The learning probably goes both ways. For example, you and your child could make a video. You might experiment together to work out how to use the editing tools to add effects. Or your child could teach you how to use the editing programme – good for you and your child!
Ideas for shared screen time
Here are some ideas for sharing screen time with your child:
Search online with your child for something that you’re both interested in – for example, a weekend activity, or a new recipe to cook for dinner.
Play an ongoing game with your child, like online Scrabble. This helps to keep you connected. It’s also fun and can be something special that just the two of you do.
Download a music app and share and chat about the music you’re listening to with each other.
Get your child to teach you how to play an online game your child enjoys, or take you on a ‘tour’ of their apps and favourite websites.
Get active while using technology together. For example, go for a walk using a mapping app.
© raisingchildren.net.au, translated and adapted with permission