There has always been concern about screen time, since the birth of TV and the subsequent growth in channels, followed by the explosion of 24 hour satellite broadcasting. Then, in more recent times, the Internet enabled increased accessibility to social media, entertainment, education, shopping, and so forth.
The changing nature of screen time resources make it fundamentally different to what we had before, which was far more passive. It forms the basis of more meaningful interactions, help educate and can really help parents maximise this present time with their children.
The current restrictions on freedom of movement has the potential to cause a detrimental effect upon mental wellbeing. Social isolation is a huge concern. Yet, in these unprecedented times in which we find ourselves, social networking sites can become a crucial lifeline, not least in helping people to be socially connected even whilst physically disconnected.
We then have to consider not how much screen time we have, but how we are choosing to use it. Yes it is of course important to balance screen time with keeping up a healthy sleep regime and daily exercise and obviously for parents to be monitoring content. We also need to recognise how hard it is, right now, for those parents working from home, particularly single parents, and those families living in overcrowded housing and inner cities with closed parks.
The use of screens have become a catalyst for community engagement during this crisis to support one another. Our online communities are helping us to source basic necessities such as food and medication in a way that would have been impossible previously. Our screens have become a portal to reach out to people, raise morale, but most importantly, recreating the communities that have been slowly dissipating. We are stronger and more resilient together. We then have to ask ourselves, does the amount of screen time really matter?