The concern multiplies by thousands in the homes of Argentina:
How can we ensure that, in the midst of quarantine and with the whole family “locked up” at home, the boys and girls do not spend the whole day hanging on the screens?
“They use them a lot, they don’t know what to do if you take them outside”; “How long would the recommended be per day?”;
“I am limiting their time, proposing other alternatives, but I feel disadvantaged with technology because they tell me they are bored.”
Those were some of the messages that the computer security specialist, Sebastián Bortnik – who for years has been dedicated to the dissemination of how to make healthier and safer use of technologies – received on social networks in recent days.
“I did a survey on networks and more than 80% of the people answered that the screen time of their sons and daughters increased in quarantine, and the same percentage stated that they are concerned about the issue,” says Bortnik.
In this context, how do you find the balance between the time spent on technology and other activities? Is it okay for us to worry about overuse? “A lot of screen time can be harmful in many aspects, from generating sleep disorders, anxiety, depression, exposure to other problems such as sexting, cyberbullying or grooming, among others,” says Bortnik. But he clarifies: “However, the extreme of paranoia is not healthy either.
There is a balance, an intermediate where we are not afraid of technology, which is a very valuable resource, but we also do not pretend that nothing is happening
Bortnik stresses that
screens are better than bad
. “There is nothing to fear, you just have to take care, and not only the time that the children spend in front of them, but what activities they do at that time, so that the use of technology is the most productive, educational, diverse and healthy that we can, “he recommends.
Therefore, for the specialist, a key concept linked to the use of screens is “quality time” and this is achieved by monitoring and choosing the content that children and adolescents consume.
How to find a balance in the use of screens during quarantine?
Some useful suggestions to maximize quality time:
- Learn to program:
There are places like
. “You learn programming first, and then you move on, because starting with things that are not for beginners can be very frustrating,” advises Bortnik.
- Board games by applications:
. “It allows you to connect with others, and if the grandparents are a little adept at technology, maybe even some of them can join in,” says Bortnik.
- Tik Tok:
How do we convert it into quality time? One option may be to make family videos. “Let’s chat at the table, let’s make those tik tok be the best possible, not just the product of boredom,” says the specialist.
- Quarantine diary, on video:
Boys can be proposed to take care of documenting these days as a family with photos, videos and stories.
- Cook together:
Find options on cooking sites and YouTube. Different options can be presented to vote and then cook the chosen one all together.
- Learn to type:
It is fun and a very useful tool. One option is the site
- Educational games:
Some of those recommended by Bortnik are
Prevention: why screens can become a problem?
Among other issues, if the necessary preventive measures are not taken, there are some risks in using the technology, which Bortnik lists:
- Access to inappropriate content for age: violence, sex, among others.
- Exposure to risky content: such as cyberbullying, sexting, or grooming.
- They can generate an addiction: new technologies activate the brain’s reward circuits, generating both pleasant and addictive sensations.
- In tweens and teens, more and more studies are correlating screen time with anxiety and depression.
- They can be linked to sleep disorders or other problems such as obesity: a large number of papers identify screens as responsible for the lack of quantity of sleep or quality of them, especially in night use. Likewise, obesity was also a study subject in correlation with screen time. Beyond the various investigations that alerted to this fact, according to Bortnik, it is important to emphasize that it is not that “screens are fattening”, but rather a correlation that means that, as screen time increases, sedentary time increases and makes it more difficult for children to choose later to do other physical activities, so important in early childhood.