Two-thirds of parents are teaching children ways to unplug, manage stress after 2020

NEW YORK — Tech may be keeping us connected this winter, but a new survey finds nearly seven in 10 American parents still believe it’s important for their families to take a break from their digital devices in the new year.

The OnePoll survey, commissioned by Circle, asked 2,000 American parents if they see tech burnout in their children and how they plan to improve their family’s digital wellbeing in 2021. More than three in four (77%) believe having their child take a break from technology can vastly improve their mental and emotional health.

Two-thirds of parents say they can even tell when their child is just as stressed as they are with the year’s events. Another 68 percent have begun to teach their child how to manage their stress because of this year’s events.

Some of the popular de-stressing activities include exercising, breathing, dancing, meditating, playing games offline, and even knitting. Parents are also teaching their kids to break big tasks into smaller tasks, encouraging children to speak up if anything is bothering them, and taking a break from screens when needed.

Children stressed out by screens

Taking a time-out from technology is especially popular with parents. The survey finds 64 percent of respondents say their child is noticeably more irritable or anxious when they spend the entire day looking at a screen.

It’s no surprise, then, that seven in 10 also agree that more screen time has a connection to high stress levels in their child. Sixty-two percent regret not enforcing screen time rules earlier, despite nearly three-quarters admitting that they’ve learned to adapt their household screen time rules.

Parents agree that some of the best ways to limit screen time include encouraging a family-wide screen off time (47%), confiscating phones and other devices (47%), distracting their kids with something else (46%), and using chores as a system to earn screen time back (42%). Seven in 10 respondents also feel like their household needs to take part in more creative or active screen time activities as quarantine continues.

“With our homes now acting as offices and classrooms, it has become increasingly difficult to carve out the screen-free time that is essential for connecting with family and pursuing other interests and activities. A screen time management solution like Circle can encourage families to refresh and recharge and are an essential tool for achieving digital wellness in the new year,” says Anne Bryan, Circle CEO and a parent of four, in a statement.

Getting to know you

There are some silver linings to quarantine, however. Three-quarters of parents believe they’ve been fortunate to learn more about their child during this time than ever before and 74 percent have sat down with their child to learn more about their day-to-day routine.

Since the pandemic began, 60 percent of parents say they’ve learned more about their child’s sense of humor, their interests and hobbies (53%), what they learn and struggle with in school (51%), and who their friends are (48%).

“It helps for families to intentionally spend more playful, unstructured time together,” says Jamie Price, cofounder of meditation app MyLife and advocate for mindfulness for children. “Schedule time away from screens. Turn off the computer or tv, leave the phone behind, and go outside together, for example, or make time to connect by eating meals together without phones at the table.”