7 Tips To Avoid Screen Time Burn Out

By AASLApril 21, 2021

Top Tips when your Child is Feeling “Burnt out” from Virtual Learning and Teletherapy!

Screen-time is happening in all forms these days; virtual/remote learning is still being utilized within many schools, therapies including speech and occupational therapy are able to be provided via teletherapy, and many children still enjoy screen-time during their free time at home.  With all this screen-time, it’s no wonder that children are getting fatigued and burning out given the introduction of this changed norm.

We wanted to share our top tips with you to help maximize the times when your child does have to participate in on-screen lessons and to keep their motivation high!

  1. Discuss the Schedule for the Day:  Children greatly benefit from structure and knowing what to expect in their day.  If they know between X and Y time they will have a virtual lesson, they can mentally prepare for it.  Use a visual schedule so they can see all the lessons or activities they might have that day; it is rewarding to be able to check off completed items, especially that virtual session that might be considered a harder part of their day!  They can also help choose a more preferred, rewarding activity they can earn after the virtual session is complete.  Seeing this preferred activity after a more challenging screen-time lesson can be very motivating!  Be sure to schedule in plenty of time for physical activity during the day given they will predominantly be sitting or tuning into the computer during virtual lessons.  “First-then” language may also be beneficial to remind your child: we “first” have our virtual lesson, “then” we get to go play outside.  Anticipation and knowledge of the schedule and what’s expected can make a big difference for many children.
  2. Ensure a Comfortable Environment that Promotes Learning:  Did you know that how your environment is set-up can greatly affect your success for learning?  Think about a noisy setting or one with many interesting preferred toys or activities all around; it will probably be quite hard to expect a child to focus on a “less preferred” lesson when in this environment!  Similarly, think about a bright, comfortable desk or table as compared to sitting on the floor with a pillow against the wall; your child may find the latter hard over time to remain comfortable and attentive.  Create a learning space that your child is excited about.  Remove excess distraction like noise or activities that may grab their interest away from a given online lesson.  Set them up for success with the materials they need and have them give their feedback to help design this learning space. For more tips related to this area, check out our blog Healthy Homework Habits from an OT! https://aaspeech.com/healthy-homework-habits-from-an-ot/  
  3. Utilize Brain breaks:  Whether the teacher allows a quick transition break within a lesson or between lessons, help your child develop a list of go-to brain breaks they can quickly choose from to maintain their focus and energy and give their body a break.  Brain breaks are popular within therapies your child may be receiving as well, so don’t hesitate to speak with your therapist to ensure these are incorporated when your child may begin to be zoning out.  Brain breaks are exactly that: a break for your brain! They are beneficial in helping your child regroup, refocus, get the blood flowing throughout the body and brain too, and often re-energize a child after they are taken!  Our favorites include: Reach for the stars then touch your toes, jumping jacks, deep breathing, and various yoga poses and stretches. Use your imagination and little breaks from the screen will work wonders to help your child stay tuned in for those valuable virtual lessons!
  4. Screen-free Preparatory and Leisure Activities:  When you know your child will need to spend an extended time in from of the screen, whether for a class subject or a virtual therapy session, be sure they are screen-free leading up to the lesson or encourage some type of motor or leisure activity before the virtual session.  For example, go outdoors for a walk or short bike ride before you have to log-on, kick a ball in the backyard, or enjoy any screen-free activity you know your child will enjoy.  More movement based activities will help to get out some energy and facilitate focus during the lesson, however any screen-free activity will do!  Ensure if your child is having a very heavy screen day with virtual lessons or tele-therapies, that you balance enough screen-free activities outside of those times to help prevent burn-out!
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