It's 2021. The year to show our phone and laptop screens who's really the boss. But this isn't easy. If anything, the pandemic has proven how much we are dependent on our screens, especially as other outdoor / social activities became rarer than children enjoying exam time.

In a recent webinar with Mr. Roshan Gandhi, CEO of the City Montessori School in Lucknow, team fREADom and Club1BR discussed the polarising topic of screen time. Everyone agreed that there's no escaping screen time; it's the ubiquitous passtime, popularised even more by COVID. But, it's possible to snatch the power back from the screen, and engage more mindfully with the digital and electronic world. Read part 1 here, where we break down active vs passive screen time.

When it comes to screen time, there are three critical areas that parents can focus on. As Amrutash Misra, SVP - Growth and Marketing of fREADom explained:

CONSUMPTION

This is essentially any content that a child consumes - where the child is the receiver. It can be a video, a podcast, a song, a TV show, or any other input from the screen. Choosing which video or TV show or podcast a child is consuming is the make-or-break factor. If it is active consumption, the content will inspire the child and make them 'bridge up' or enable them to learn something new. Roshan Gandhi gave the example of 3 Idiots - a massively popular movie consumed by millions, which inspired several students and parents to unlearn and redefine their definitions of success, academic excellence, and a lot more. A parent can ensure that their child is consuming positively stimulating content, instead of spending more time passively scrolling.

COMMUNICATION

This is essentially any activity or using any app that lets your child speak to someone else. Take Snapchat, Insta DMs, WhatsApp, in-game chat, etc. It's crucial to see the quality of conversation on these platforms, as well as find more creative platforms for communication. For instance, there are apps that let you connect with your grandparents, while playing a game with them. There are positive, inspiring communities in which common interests can be discussed - such as books, games, dance, gardening, you name it.

CREATION

The internet has moulded several artists, performers, editors, writers, creative professionals and more. There's a 'creation app' for almost everything and everyone now. Engaging kids in apps and platforms which can enable them to learn something and then create something of their own can be a joyful and rewarding experience. Take Canva for example - Amrutash gave the example of his daughter creating mailers and creatives on the platform, and learning by herself.

A balance between these three C's will enable your child to experience good screen time. But there's a tiny, bonus C attached to this - a Caveat.

As parents, it's crucial to be alert and aware of the apps, platforms and websites your child is consuming, from a safety POV. Ensure that the app isn't collecting your personal data, pictures, postal addresses, etc. Also ensure that it doesn't allow for payments without authentication, and that it doesn't ask for card details. Lastly, critically examine its design - does it have an addictive quality to itself? Does it lure the viewer into watching just one more video? Check out if these features can be disabled. Many apps have a 'parent mode', as well as the option of turning off addictive features such as autoplay and push notifications.

This article is a three part series based on the Club1BR Webinar on Screen-Time. Read Part 3 of our piece to understand how this balance could play out in the post-pandemic world.


  1. Read Part 1 : 'Good Screen Time': Understanding the GST No Parent Should Evade
  2. Read Part 2 : Will Your Child Break Up With the Screen Post Pandemic?

You can also watch the entire webinar by clicking here.