Is Monitoring Screen Time A Thing Of The (COVID) Past?

Do you remember the time when the kids had loads and loads of stuff to do?

Playdates, matches at the weekends, art classes, gymnastics training, dance and swimming lessons, sleepovers; wasn’t there even that science class on Tuesday afternoons that you couldn’t pass up for fear that your kids were…bored?! In recent times, however, these activities have stepped aside for screen time to take over.

Their weeks were jam-packed with activities from the time they were picked up from school until bedtime. There were days when co-ordinating the social lives of two or more kids meant that at least one of them was eating dinner, getting changed or doing homework from the back of the family car.

Remember those days?!

When the schools closed back in March, a lot of parents celebrated that the daily trudge from school to activity after activity was on hold. The hamster wheel of pre-planning pick-ups, lifts, kit bags, extra snacks, fees and cheering from the side-lines was on hold and lots of us enjoyed the peace.

At our house, daily epic family walks became mandatory instead - the dogs thought it was Christmas every day. Arts and crafts were an essential activity, and each family member took turns picking an evening movie. The kids were earthy, sun-kissed, and free.

Then they discovered Roblox. And they were obsessed.

With our cyber-fearful watchful eye on their screen time (“Who can enter the chat? Is everyone nice? You know you can only make online pals with your actual pals, right?!”), we shared their little bit of joy as they got to ‘play’ with their friends. They hadn’t seen them for so long and this was their sole method of connecting with them at the time. So we let them have it.

As we got back to work and school, the online activities didn’t subside. When the kids came home with no homework (yippee!) and the very minimal amount of extra-curricular activities ahead of them, time on the iPad still featured heavily. They still love playing with their friend in this way and really, how else can they connect with them during this lockdown?

We used to have rules about screen-time – an hour here and there was permitted, at one point we banned iPad use midweek completely. I’m even remembering a time when I didn’t want them to watch too much TV. How much this Pandemic has knocked by 'Perfect Parenting Plan' on its arse!

I’m keeping a small eye on things; we still get out for walks, the arts and crafts are hit-and-miss. And yes, the movie-watching has been replaced with following Strictly and The Great British Bake Off. And when the iPads appear first thing in the morning or straight after school - do I turn a blind eye? I have to say, I kinda do.

Sharyn Hayden

Sharyn is the author of comedy smash, 'I Forgot to Take My Pill!' (Amazon) and mammy to two amazing kids, Jacob and Eva. She blogs at and is the creator of Skinny Batch Bakery in North Co. Dublin.

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