How to help my child regain social skills after they have had lots of screen time?

After several months of little or no face to face communication many children have spent longer than usual on screens and communicating with friends virtually. Although some children were able to go back to school before the summer, many weren’t. And for those children who did go back to school, it wasn’t business as usual because of bubbles and social distancing.

Some children may find returning to face-to-face communication difficult because they have got so used to not doing it.

Child using an iPad

Children may also find that the idea of socialising and face to face contact is stressful and cause anxiety as they are not in the habit of just chatting.

They may also be worried about catching or spreading coronavirus, which could impact on their confidence and social skills meeting and chatting with others.

It can be unsettling for the whole family, but we’ve got some practical things you can do with your child to help them regain social skills in preparation for going back to school.

Reassuring your child

  • Use open questions that encourage them to talk to you – talk to them about their friends and what their concerns may be when returning to school and talking with people again.
  • Look at strategies to help them deal with social anxiety.
  • Talk to the school to see what emotional support and friendship building activities are going to be in place when they return.

Getting your child away from their screen

  • Introduce parental controls and reduce screen time using timers to start to limit the time spent on screens.
  • Check the current government guidelines in your area and organise meet ups and play dates with friends – local parks and outdoor areas would be good.
  • Think of alternative activities that you can do with or organise for your child that involve them being away from the screen and interacting with others.
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