SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – The COVID-19 pandemic has created a new lifestyle for parents — working from home while home-schooling their kids. Psychologists tell ABC4 News that balancing both can be challenging.
“I think as a parent, it can feel some of the time especially right now, like, Oh, please just watch this movie for a few hours or spend the day while I’m trying to work in front of screens,” said Dr. Nicole Beurkens, Licensed Clinical Psychologist.
Dr. Beurkens says leaving kids in front of devices and electronics, and spending excessive time on digital learning, can create more stress and lead to additional problems.
“Excessive use of devices, excessive screen time, absolutely has a negative impact on kids on their mental health that makes them more irritable. It makes their behavior worse. It makes them more hyperactive and stressed out,” she said.
A friend of ABC4’s Brittany Johnson, and consultant in Jordan School District created a daily school schedule for her children, which includes breaks, physical education, time for snacks and lunch, and check-in times.
“We know that kids need breaks we do as adults too. And so having them do some learning activities or whatever they’re doing on devices, and then taking a break for a period of time to do other kinds of things,” Dr. Beurkens said.
For teachers having a hard time transferring in-classrooms materials into the digital space, Dr. Beurkens says incorporating real-life activities into the curriculum can help.
“Right now a more efficient way is maybe some options for how parents can work math skills into cooking, or even just saying to parents, hey, we want you reading to your child for 15 minutes a day, make sure that they’re you know, having some exposure to listening to books, maybe do a daily picture journal.”
Another tip from Dr. Beurkens, who is also a brand ambassador for Qustodio, a parental control software, says parents can also use screen-time features or third party applications to set content restrictions on devices in order to make sure kids are doing homework and not gaming.