Screen time habits: Expert advice to combat pandemic’s impact on kids

Published: May. 20, 2022 at 10:46 AM CDT
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DULUTH, MN. (KBJR) - Perhaps you grew up playing outside, riding bikes, making crafts, or helping a parent cook.

Whether it is technology or the pandemic, the reality is kids play differently today than they did several years ago.

Cameron Kruger, the president and CEO of the Duluth Children’s Museum, joined Kendall Jarboe on KBJR 6 Today to talk about the importance of helping kids practice healthy activities.

He said the set of skills kids get when they are playing is executive function, motor skills, and hand-eye coordination.

“It’s really important that we give kids ample time to be able to learn those things and to practice those things together,” Kruger said.

He said kids being able to play also allows them to build community.

The pandemic had a big impact on how children play mostly because they are spending more time with technology.

“Kids are spending 20 hours a week in front of the screen, and that’s post-pandemic numbers,” Kruger said. “We have learned some new habits in the pandemic that are causing us to de-socialize more and to put our kids in front of screens because that is what we had to do in a time when we were isolated and indoors and needed to find ways to entertain our kids.”

Kruger recommends giving kids a balance of activities. For every scheduled event they have, make sure they have time for informal play that’s not structured.

“What we’ve found in the last few decades is that kids are playing less and less in informal time and are being scheduled more and more,” he said.

Ballet class, soccer, and music lessons are all good things, but there is a benefit to giving kids a chunk of time to explore and imagine on their own agenda.

The Duluth Children’s Museum offers time for informal play every day.

Kruger also recommends getting outdoors and exploring all the natural wonders the Northland has to offer.

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