Screen use during the crisis

Screens are always a contentious subject amongst parents. Should we use them or not? Are they the helpful distraction we need? A tool for learning? Ruining our children’s brains?  An opportunity to connect with friends, family and school mates?

During this time of distance learning and working from home, most of us are forced to review their screen use rules. Therefor, it is still helpful to have clear guidelines around how long, when and what kind of screen time is appropriate. Below are some ideas for creating your family guidelines.

Define the rules:

  • Explain things are different for now and will go back to usual when life is normal again (see our family meeting article for guideline on how to talk about it).
  • Working from home and distance learning for school are the priority . 

Screens to distract or engage:

  • If you have a conference call and cannot be interrupted.
  • If you want to help one kid work on an activity, divide and conquer!
  • If you badly need a break! Screens are not the best, but they’re much better than getting too frustrated with the kids!

Screens to learn:

  • Many schools are providing online learning tools for children. Adults can use that opportunity to get work and things around the house done during that time!
  • Have them learn or improve a language (Duolingo).
  • Watch documentaries and have them tell you at dinner what they learned from it. They can write or do more research about it too.
  • Marbotics Letters and Numbers: wooden letters and numbers you put on your tablet, they are a fun and interactive way to learn numbers and counting, or letters, sound and reading. If you have two children, have the older one teach the youngest!
  • See our list of curated websites for recommendations on academic content.

Screens to connect:

  • As humans, social connection is critical, screens can keep all of us connected with friends and family. Zoom, Facetime, skype can be great tools to connect while we are social distancing.
  • Facetime grandparents, relatives and friends so they can:

It’s a great way to entertain your kids and to keep grandparents involved and avoid isolation.

Screens for fun:

We are in a stressful situation that is conducive to anxiety. So, it is important to remember to have fun however we can!

  • Time to get the popcorn popping and just enjoy a family show
  • If you have video games, play with your kids, share their interest!
  • Karaoke or music videos are great opportunities to dance and laugh as a family.


Mathilde is a Doctor of neurosciences who specialized on the impact of playing educational games on children’s cognition during her research. She also has a strong interest in positive discipline and is a certified educator. She lives in California with her husband and her three children who provide her constant opportunities for learning in the parenting department!

Mathilde Cerioli, Ph.D

Doctor of cognitive neuroscience + Positive Discipline educator + Parent