Why Online Therapy Is Different From Screen Time
Is online therapy any different from screen time or are they the same thing? Parents are often left in a dilemma over trying online therapy for their children. On one hand, therapists ask you to reduce screen time, but also suggest therapy online. Doesn’t this mean more screen time for my child and what impact will it have on them? The general reaction to the suggestion of online therapy for kids is also curiosity. Does this work? Will my child actually listen to the therapist? Will my child sit through a session without the physical presence of a therapist?
The Debate Over Screen Time
For the most part of last year and this year too, our world has existed through a screen thus making screen time, especially for children a debatable topic in the world of parenting. There’s been much research about the impact that screen time has on children and much of it, emphasises the negative effects it has on children’s behaviour, interaction and mental health. At the same time, parents can vouch for screen time being an absolute saviour, keeping their kids engaged while parents can get work done or get a much-needed break. With an ongoing pandemic, screen time has become a bit of a haven for both parents and children to rejuvenate and rest.
The World Health Organization recommends that children below the age of 5 spend one hour or less on digital devices, while children below 1 spend absolutely no time in front of screens. Apart from concerns over the sedentary life that screen time can inadvertently encourage, there’s also much concern over the mindless inactivity that children can be engaged in while being engrossed in their screens, completely disconnected from the world around them. Young minds are impressionable and the content they’re exposed to can be worrisome.
With these legitimate concerns over screen time, parents find it a bit of a challenge to make the decision to commit to Online Therapy. Thankfully, there’s a clear difference between screen time and online therapy. Read on to understand what that is.
But First, Why Online Therapy
Technology has changed the way we interact with the world. It has bridged the gaps between people across the world, created modes of interaction across continents and made the virtual world a second home. With an ongoing pandemic that has meant staying home is best, online therapy has ensured there are no gaps or interruptions in one’s intervention programs. Even though online therapy has been in existence for years, the pandemic has accelerated its need and presence. As many in the world faced isolation, owing to lockdowns and quarantine, online access has been a saviour, providing constant support, unfazed by the situation of the physical world.
Online therapy lets you can access therapists from the safety and comfort of your home. This also means a more familiar and comfortable atmosphere for your child that instantly puts them at ease. For parents, who might value more privacy, you can avoid running into people in the waiting room, have flexibility in scheduling and you can save time and money on commute.
We can definitely say that Online Therapy is a good kind of screen time.
How Is Online Therapy Different From Screen Time?
A good way to answer this question is to understand what happens during online therapy and during screen time ( TV, Tablets etc).
Interaction and Communication:
During online therapy, the child is actively engaging with another human being, albeit over a screen. The therapist is in tune with the child’s attention, interests and needs. There is active communication, interaction and cognitive activity that takes place. A therapist engages in conversation with the child, might ask the child to participate in an activity and continues the session based on the child’s response. None of this happens during screen time, which is devoid of interaction and communication.
An online therapy session is tailor-made for each child, based on their unique needs, goals. A therapist will take into consideration the child’s interest, mood and response during a session and navigate the session accordingly. There are specific tasks that have been pre-planned for your child, age-appropriate activities, goals that the child and therapist will jointly work on. Screen time on the other hand, especially if not monitored may not always be age-appropriate and definitely isn’t made specific to your child’s needs and goals.
The duration of an online therapy session is pre-determined based on what is appropriate for the child’s age, needs, response and goals. On the other hand, children can be overexposed to screen time, when not monitored.
How To Benefit From Online Therapy
The first and foremost requirement for online therapy to be successful is to be open to it. Trust the process and if it helps, there’s plenty of research that states it is as effective as in-person therapy. For many young children, technology is something they are familiar with, as most as tech-savvy from a young age. This means they are comfortable accessing therapy over a screen. The verdict? Online therapy is surely different from in-person therapy but just as effective. It is over a screen but completely different from screen time.
Are you still wondering if online therapy will work for your child? Get in touch with us and we can talk about it.
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