How can I help my child’s social skills after they have had lots of screen time?

During the pandemic, many children have spent longer than usual on screens and communicating with friends virtually. Some children may find the idea of returning to face-to-face communication difficult. The idea of socialising and face-to-face contact may cause anxious feelings. Or they may be worried about catching or spreading coronavirus (COVID-19).

But as a parent or carer you can help them adjust. Here are some practical things you can do with your child to help them develop their social skills.

Child using an iPad

Reassure your child

  • Use open questions that encourage your child to talk to you. Speak to them about their friends and what their concerns may be when returning to school or talking with more people again.
  • Look at strategies to help them manage anxious feelings.
  • Talk to the school to see what emotional support and friendship building activities are going to be in place when your child returns.

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.
  • When you’re able to, organise meet ups and play dates with friends – local parks and outdoor areas could be good for this.
  • Think of alternative activities that you can do with or organise for your child that involve them interacting with others.
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