Beware Of Screen-Time For Kids

Buddha M Dhakal

My daughter returned to school on August 19 despite the upsurge in cases of virus infection in Louisville, KY. I was a little skeptical about the success of school keeping students in school without having infected cases. However, it is going on smoothly.

Schools are in a dilemma. Public schools across the U.S. have experimented with running full scale classrooms as well as with  hybrid models. But the students are still at home for most of the day, often with no parent or guardian to help in their online classes.

My biggest concern when students are at home: their screen time. How long can we keep them away from computers or mobile screens? What might be other good options to engage them in creative work? Public libraries are not open to the public yet and…? 

And, there is a risk tendency of isolation. Teenagers tend to lock their rooms and not bother to get out of the houses. I often knock on the door of my teenage boy and urge him to get outside the house to bask in the warm sunlight, enjoy mild weather, and breathe in fresh air. 

What keeps them inside? Obviously the internet products- games, YouTube videos, and many more other social media outlets. As long as students are engaged in school work, doing online classes, and interacting with teachers and counselors, they should remain on track.

Overindulgence and obsessive crave for internet platforms have serious implications on the mental health of school age kids. I heard about two middle school students back in Bhutan who took their lives. I was curious to know the probable cause.  

Some kids have even lost their family members to the pandemic. This causes even greater impulse to worry and get depressed. Unintended though, they seek online entertainment, which makes them even more vulnerable to isolation.

As parents of these digitally-influenced kids, how much are we prepared to prevent them from the menace of bad internet products? Not much, I guess! For immigrants and refugees just beginning to learn ways of life in the U.S., the challenge is humongous. As for me, being in the U.S. for a decade, and literate in English, I still feel naive when it comes to controlling the internet platforms on devices.

I am happy about sending my fifth grade daughter to school rather than giving her an iPad or tablet to be absorbed in undesirable YouTube videos. At the time when pandemic is upscaling and state government warnings against sending students back to school are ramping up, some catholic schools dared to open doors to students willing to return for classroom instructions. And, it has helped a lot to minimize potential harm on mental health of young children.

I am in fact thinking of those frolicsome village days that my children miss so much –being engaged with natural processes of food production, living under limited resources and harmonious socialization with simple village folks.