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Worried about screen time? Covid-19 is a unique time for us all. We may be using technology more often than we would ordinarily be comfortable with, especially from a Waldorf perspective. During a typical on-campus BVWS school day, children learn through being present and engaged in physical experiences that stimulate the imagination. While we are all staying home, technology is a valuable tool for learning, working, and staying connected with our communities. And it may allow us to use our creative imagination to put ourselves in community with each other again!

A time for connection

Community is human nature. Staying connected with our friends, family and communities is important during this time of social distancing. With traveling, playdates and parties off the table, technology facilitates our ability to stay connected. 

A recent article in the Washington Post suggests “we should stop being hard on ourselves for staring at screens and start embracing how they’re helping us survive. In this extraordinary moment, that’s just what the doctor ordered.”

We are not alone: we are all in this together. Staying home and social distancing doesn’t mean we are alone. Our devices are portals to work, school and social connection. Take this as a reminder we are part of a larger community!

Distance education and screen time

At Boulder Valley Waldorf School we value community and social connectedness. Many of our students thrive in a community-based learning environment. Distance education is not so different in this regard. Our teachers are therefore encouraging students to work in pairs on assignments at a distance. Others are creating a social snack time with virtual meetings. Parent Evenings are happening online – as are Parent Happy Hours!

Read more about how learning (and teaching) is a relationship-based activity: Teaching is a Relationship-Based Profession

Not all screen time is created equally

Talking to grandma on Facetime for an hour is not the same as watching a movie. Conferencing with classmates on Zoom throughout the day is not the same as playing six hours of video games. 

At this time we have the opportunity to distinguish what types of screen time is positive or negative. That is different for everyone. Take note of how you and your family feel after a particular activity.

Does checking Facebook make you feel more connected, or does it create anxiety? Does a video chat with a loved one over coffee make you feel better connected? Does playing a game help you disconnect from stress for a while? 

How to manage screen time during Covid-19

All of the problems that existed with technology before Covid-19 still exist today. It’s still important to be aware of things like misinformation and online bullying that may come with increased media use. Managing screen time with this in mind remains important. 

Prioritizing connecting with our loved ones is important for mental health. In doing so, getting sleep, exercise and fresh air is just as important to health. We can work social technology use into our schedules just as we do for other wellness activities. 

Rather than focusing on total screen time, focus on the quality

Our families are most likely getting more screen time now than under normal circumstances. Parents might have video meetings at work to manage along with their children’s video meetings for school. Additionally, we are likely participating in more social calls, which is a good thing. 

Don’t count things like schoolwork and video chatting with friends towards any numerical total of screen time. Keeping in touch with our communities and maintaining relationships with loved ones, neighbors and friends nurtures those relationships. It’s important not to take away from that. 

Tips for managing screen time during Covid-19

  • Keep devices out of bedrooms.
  • Turn off screen-time tally notifications.
  • Avoid information overload by checking the news just one time per day, and away from your children.
  • Stick to a loose schedule (but don’t stress if things don’t go quite to plan).
  • Pick one day or one afternoon per week to unplug and focus on family time / self-care.

Read more: Our Waldorf Approach to Distance Learning