Dear Exhausted Parents: A Little Screen Time Doesn’t Hurt and Can Actually Help


We’ve all heard about the pitfalls of allowing your children to spend too much time on screens. And though you might want to have screen time limits in your house, there are times when you are just too exhausted to do anything else but hand them your tablet. Don’t worry too much, however. All screen time is not created equal. In fact, many programs, games, and apps can be educational, appropriate, and useful for children.

Virtually explore your home

Google Lens, which is available on Google Pixel phones, combines AI technology and your phone camera to recognize an image and then provide more information about it. Kids find it entertaining, and it can definitely be educational. 

For example, if your kids point it at the family dog, Google Lens can identify the breed and then offer more details about it. If they point it at a tree in the yard, they can find out the type of tree, growing conditions, location, and so on. 

Google Lens is also useful for adults too. If you point it at a restaurant building, the app can identify the eatery and reveal the address, opening times, menu options, and reviews. It can also translate text, which is essential for foreign travel. 

If you have a recent Samsung Galaxy phone, Digital Trends points out that you might also have a similar feature – Bixby Vision. Like Google Lens, Bixby Vision can recognize images, text, places, QR codes, and more.

Virtually explore the world

Another Google tool allows children to explore the world with a little help from screens – Google Earth. Kids (and adults) can use Google Earth on the web, on mobile, or on desktop. They also offer a virtual reality version for a truly virtual experience. 

Children love using Google Earth to explore hundreds of cities and landscapes on amazing 3D maps. Google Earth Pro on desktop even allows kids to go back in time and view historical imagery.

Learn a second language

Knowing how to speak a second language can open up different career opportunities, as well as improve memory, increase attention span, and boost cognitive abilities. Whether your child is learning a second language in school or not, they can improve their foreign language skills at home with the assistance of self-paced computer programs. From free apps like Duolingo to full-blown programs like the ones from Rosetta Stone, children can use screens to work independently and learn a foreign language that can benefit them both now and in the future.

Learn to code

Computer programming jobs are plentiful, and will continue to be so into the future. According to iD Tech, 71% of all new jobs in STEM are in computing, but only 8% of STEM graduates majored in Computer Science. 

Though kids can read books about coding, they can’t really learn to code without being on a computer. Therefore, if you want children to learn this valuable skill (and others like digital art and computer animation), you’ll have to let them engage in some screen time. From a young age, kids can try their hand at coding with programs and games like Code Monkey, Scratch, Tynker, and many others.

Take advantage of adaptive learning

Could your kid use a boost in math? Why not gamify it? One of the benefits of using math games on a tablet or computer is that programs are adaptive. They figure out where children are struggling and then personalize the lessons for the individuals. This can help your kids whether they are struggling with math in school or not. Apps like DreamBox are enjoyed by kids and have been found to improve problem-solving skills and math achievement.

Though you don’t want your kids to veg out in front of a screen during their spare time, you also don’t need to avoid screen time like the plague. In fact, the right type of screen time can actually entertain and educate your kids simultaneously. Whether they are using your phone or have their own computers, just be sure to know what your kids are doing on their screens and provide them with access to beneficial apps, programs, and websites.

Photo via Pixabay


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