Screen time and social life: aim for balance
Screen time and digital technology can help children build and maintain relationships and learn social skills. But for children of all ages, it’s important to balance socialising online with opportunities for face-to-face socialising.
Screen time and social life: preschoolers
It’s best for young children to interact with others face to face. This is how they learn about non-verbal cues, eye contact, body language and other social and communication skills.
But screens can help your young child build relationships and learn skills too, especially when your child can’t interact face to face. For example:
- Video chat and conferencing platforms like Zoom, Teams or FaceTime can help your child keep in touch and build relationships with family members who live a long way away.
- Multi-player video games or apps can help your child develop social skills like taking turns and playing as part of a team.
- Shared screen time builds your relationship with your child. For example, playing a game or watching a show together turns screen time into family time, especially when you talk about what you’re playing or watching.
Screen time and social life: older children, pre-teens and teenagers
Screen time and digital technology can help your older or teenage child build relationships and develop social skills in several ways:
- Digital technology and social media can help your child connect with others and build relationships. Instant messaging or voice chat in online multiplayer games can do the same, when your child is playing with people they know.
- Fitness or activity tracker apps can encourage your child to interact with others through physical activity. For example, many fitness tracker apps allow people to do shared challenges and motivate each other to meet goals.
- Multi-player video games or apps can help your child develop social and problem-solving skills. For example, playing games like World of Warcraft, League of Legends, Clash of Clans and The Sims lets your child work as part of a team.
Social media is vital to teenagers’ and children’s social lives. They use social media to have fun, keep up with friends and family, share interests, explore identities and get creative. It does have risks like cyberbullying, but talking about social media use can help you keep your child safe.