Not All Screen Time is Created Equal



For many families, screen time is a challenging subject even in the best of times. Coupled with the pandemic and ongoing stay-at-home orders, screen time has become an even bigger concern as families and kids have no choice but to spend much more time behind their computer, TV, and phone screens.


How do we manage screen time in a world where seemingly everything - from birthday parties to school - has transitioned to an online environment?


Turns out, there might not be a correct answer or a magical number when it comes to limiting screen time.


Instead, research is starting to show that it’s the QUALITY of the screen time that matters more than the quantity.


The Four C’s of Screen Time


While we may want to limit the amount of “mindless entertainment” our kids get on social media, watching movies/tv shows, or playing video games, there are many ways we can maximize our kids’ screen times by focusing on HOW the screen time is engaging our kids.


Common Sense Media suggests considering the “four C’s” of screen time.


Connection - Do kids connect on a personal level with the content they’re consuming? Are they genuinely interested, even enlightened?


Critical Thinking - Are kids exposed to meaningful content related to a specific topic, subject, or skill?


Creativity - Are kids given the chance to create their own content and be inspired?


Context - Do kids understand how the content relates to the larger world?


Some parents might be hesitant to sign their kids up for additional online programs via Zoom, worrying that their kids have already been cooped up too long in front of the computer during their distance learning school/classes.


We get it. We understand the stressors for both kids and teachers that come with remote learning. Our kids work hard all day and they deserve a break!


That is exactly why our live, online creative arts programs are specifically designed to be ENGAGING and FUN for kids, and NOT in any way a continuation of school.


What makes Mr. D’s Music Club online programs different?


Mr. D’s Music Club offers live, online programs that we call the Creative Spaces. Our Spaces include: Singing, Art, Dance, Music, Strumming (ukulele lessons), Movement, and Acting.


Our mission is to increase connection, engagement, and creativity. We strive to keep our programs and content fresh, fun, and interesting for our kids. Our programs are intentionally small (8-12 kids) so each child feels seen, heard and connected.


During these out-of-the-ordinary times, we’ve found Zoom to be a great option for offering creative arts remotely. With a few tweaks here and there, we are able to offer quality, interactive, live creative arts programs that really do inspire kids.


Let’s take a look at a typical online Creative Space program at Mr. D’s Music Club.


Program Content


Each program at Mr. D’s Music Club is taught by professionals in their field or UCLA college students studying in the arts. We call these wonderful people the Teaching Artists.


The Teaching Artists are dynamic, super fun, and truly care about the well-being of their students. They are incredibly flexible with their classes to ensure the group of kids in a particular class have engaging content that resonates with them.


What are some of the ways we keep content fresh, relevant, and interesting for kids?


  • Allowing kids to choose the songs they want to sing from the playlist in the Singing Space and offering opportunities to sing a solo when they are ready


  • Writing and acting out scripts with the Teaching Artists in the Acting Space


  • Taking song requests in the Movement Space so kids have further opportunity to express themselves


  • Creating unique, hands-on art projects kids can dive into in the Art Space that they won’t find elsewhere


  • Collaborating dance moves for the choreographed dance in the Dance Space


Introduction/Warming Up


The first ten minutes of each program are spent with the Teaching Artists checking in with the kids and encouraging conversation, doing warm-ups, and getting ready to have some fun.


We’ve found that conversations happen naturally, since most kids are excited to share things about their day, week, weekend, or whatever’s on their mind! Teaching artists also have prompts ready to help kids settle in or ease the transition during the first class of the session.



During the Class


As the class progresses, the focus shifts to what the kids are there to learn and participate in.


The types of activities will vary based on the Creative Space, but they are always engaging and interactive. Our goal is to encourage kids to explore their artistic interests and try new things in a safe and accepting environment.


Each class is designed around this concept so kids feel comfortable trying something new and even a little scary (like singing a solo!) with the support and guidance of the Teaching Artist.


Kids quickly come around to participating because the content of the classes is relevant to them (pop music they enjoy), we hear them (and speak to them like people), and we see them (and the bravery it takes to go outside of their comfort zone).


Throughout the class, Teaching Artists also make sure to take little breaks with the kids for the opportunity to ask them questions and guide conversation.



Wrapping Up


While there’s always potential for a class to go right up to the hour, Teaching Artists tend to use the last five minutes to once again check in with the kids and have a final chat before the program ends for the day.


Sure, it’s technically screen time. But it’s enriching.


Our online programs differ from school but they also differ from mindless entertainment.


They are uniquely designed as a social and creative outlet for kids. We’ve really seen the impact these classes have while watching kids gain confidence, make new friends, and have fun doing something they love! More often than not we notice that kids come to our classes, heads down, shoulders slumped, equally exhausted by remote and in-person school, but they leave the Creative Space energized and excited.


Our Creative Spaces at Mr. D’s Music Club check off the “four C’s” for engaging and interactive content for screen time:


  • We foster real & meaningful human connections in our small groups and make sure the kids are interested in the activities

  • We encourage critical thinking in all our programs by introducing new skills and tailoring content specific to the Creative Space

  • We inspire creativity and give kids the freedom & space to express themselves

  • We communicate important takeaways with the kids during and after the programs


Why not see for yourself the difference our online programs make in kids’ lives?


We have plenty of individual class offerings and wouldn’t be surprised if your kids want to come back for more! 74% of the kids return for 2 or more programs and 54% explore multiple Creative Spaces to expand their creative pursuits.


Whether you’re a long-time member of Mr. D’s Music Club or a newcomer, we invite you to explore all of our Creative Spaces and programs. Visit www.mrdsmusicclub.com for more info and current programs.







Sources:


https://www.commonsensemedia.org/screen-time


https://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2020/11/25/limit-kids-screen-time