"Kids WILL spend some time on computer games."
"Kids WILL spend some time on social media."

And that's okay.

On June 1, Club1BR and fREADom hosted a webinar with Mr. Roshan Gandhi, CEO of the City Montessori School in Lucknow. The topic was one of the most polarising as well as popular topics among parents, schools and teachers - Screen Time, or more specifically, Good Screen Time. Does something like that even exist?

Photo by Julia Coimbra / Unsplash

Mr. Gandhi confronted screen time head-on, saying that kids will spend time on things like social media, gaming and other activities. You can't fight that. Owing to the pandemic, kids have been spending 6 or more hours on the screen - attending 'Zoom school'. Replicating the full school timetable and atmosphere is not possible, nor conducive to healthy learning, as Mr. Gandhi said. However, in its current avatar too, it is exhaustive. Kids need an outlet, an activity to relax, or even do nothing.

However, our popular definition of screen time has become just that - synonymous with passive consumption. It's as if the screen has more power than us, and we are just sitting in front of it, mindlessly consuming and watching. There's never been a better time to challenge this definition. The user, or the child in this case, needs to have more agency and power over the screen, as Aditi Mehta, Academic Director at Stones2Milestones shared in the webinar.

Aditi said, "We need to, as a community, understand that our definition of screen time could get simplistic. But our definition [of screen time] needs to be more expansive. Is it passive or active?"

Active v/s Passive Screen Time

Not all screen time is created equal, said Aditi. Let's think about it as food, or a balanced diet. Parents allow children to splurge during some meals - there's chocolate and ice cream and burgers ahoy. But then there's also a spoonful of salad. On most days however, dal and roti and salad often gets precedence. The trick is in the balance.

"Think of active screen time as something that could mostly be done face to face as well," said Mr. Gandhi. That's true if you really think of it - screen time that actively engaged you - like a conversation, a chat, a webinar, a puzzle, a strategy game - could also be done offline in slightly differing formats.

Screen time that holds a child intellectually and emotionally, is active screen time.

There are TV shows that encourage you to 'bridge up', to think to explore, said Amrutash Misra, SVP - Growth and Marketing at fREADom. And then there are TV shows that you passively consume, which could have a dumbing down effect. The same is true of computer games, social media interaction, videos, and more. On some digital platforms, an enhanced way of performing an activity is possible, as Mr. Gandhi explained. For instance, it's easy for a 100+ class or group to discuss something in a breakout room on Zoom, and return to the main conversation. The same activity is tougher offline, due to several reasons.

Every parent and household can independently and individually figure out what active screen time means for their child, and how much of that they want to encourage. Understanding 'good' or 'active' screen time also ensures that the power is put back in your child's hand, and in yours. Let's show the screen who's boss!

This article is a three part series based on the Club1BR Webinar on Screen-Time. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this piece to understand the types of good or active screen time, and incorporate them in your child's life.

  1. Read Part 2 : Will Your Child Break Up With the Screen Post Pandemic?
  2. Read Part 3 : The 3 C's for Experiencing Good Screen Time

You can also watch the Screen-time Webinar by clicking here.