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If you’re like me, you have likely spent your child’s early years making extraordinary efforts to limit screen time and avoid the 80’s “TV Babysitter”. Yet, here we are in 2021 faced with the necessity of doing almost everything in our days on a screen. No longer do we just receive entertainment through a screen, but we are also working on a screen, our children go to school on a screen, we talk to family and friends through a screen and even do most of our shopping on a screen. At this point, we are all asking the same question – How much screen time is too much?

The answer is another question – Is the screen time Active or Passive engagement?

Passive screen time would be the traditional zombie TV mode. We turn off our brains and let the characters on the screen show and tell us how to feel, when to laugh and when to act surprised. This type of screen time should be limited for everyone, children and parents alike!

Active screen time is where the brain is actively engaged in a specific activity or task and the screen becomes the tool rather than the function. This can include some interactive games, learning activities and some forms of online learning. When children are actively thinking, answering, learning and questioning, the screen itself is almost entirely irrelevant.
The goal of learning should be to develop critical thinking skills, questioning skills, research and reporting skills and collaboration. All of these skills can be facilitated through online learning – the difference is active or passive engagement.

So, the next time you start panicking because your child has spent all day on a screen and wants to play more computer games, ask yourself one question before saying yes or no – “Is the screen time active or passive?”
For active screen time options that are engaging, with small groups and tons of interaction, consider Oak Online virtual classes, designed by real teachers to engage, enhance and enrich every child’s online learning experience. Visit https://oaklearners.ca/oakonline/ to learn more.

Kelly Farrell

Kelly Farrell is the Founder and Director of Oak Learners. She is dedicated to supporting learners of all ages and abilities reach their goals and love the learning journey. Kelly’s philosophy of education is based in the understanding that every child has the capacity to excel and succeed when they are given the tools and taught the skills to help them on their journey.
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