If you've ever experienced a surge of guilt after saying yes to your child's request for iPad time , you may have found a recent New York Times headline to be hitting a little too close to home.

"Children's screen time has soared in the pandemic, alarming parents and researchers", the NYT reports.

Tell us something we don't know.

Yes, we are alarmed.

No, we can't take the screens away.

We're in the middle of a pandemic. We're doing the best we can.

As Nicole Beurkens, PhD , previously wrote for Motherly , "The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement in March acknowledging, basically, that previous expectations around screen time may need to be adjusted given the new reality for so many families, and experts have suggested that the screen time metric to focus on is quality, not quantity."


It's not all bad

Screen time (both ours and the next generation's ) gets such a bad rap in some parenting circles, but not all screen time is equal. Using a coloring app on the iPad isn't the same as zoning out in front of egg unwrapping YouTube videos, and reading a book on our phone is a different experience than scrolling (and scrolling and scrolling) through Instagram.

Matthew Johnson, the Director of Education for MediaSmarts , a not-for-profit charitable organization for digital and media literacy, previously told Motherly t hat while any screen time isn't really developmentally appropriate for toddlers, by the time kids are in elementary school, it's not so black and white, and parents should consider what kids are doing during screen time rather than just how much they get.

"Specifically, instead of counting hours you might consider a creative use of screens—doing an animation project or doing school research—as being counted differently than using it in a passive way."

Take a break after dark

If you're worried about too much screen time, keep screens out of the kids' bedrooms (and yours).

Thrive Global founder Arianna Huffington previously told Motherly that keeping phones out of the bedrooms and off the dinner table is an important part of teaching kids good "phone hygiene" and that, "Phones, like all technology, should augment our humanity, not consume it."


[A version of this post was originally published July 18, 2018.]