What is active screen time and how can it help your child learn?


Kyle Carney

With the switch to online learning and restrictions to active play spaces like playgrounds, children are spending more time than ever in front of screens. This trend has led to a significant increase in searches and studies surrounding the impact of screen time on development and cognitive ability.

Spending hours and hours in front of a screen can indeed have a negative impact on children. However, it is important to identify what type of screen time they are having. Research has found that there are two distinct types of screen time – active and passive.

What is the difference between passive and active screen time?

The difference between passive and active screen time is how children are interacting with the content. Passive screen time can be thought of as children watching endless loops of videos on YouTube or sitting in front of the television watching movies. While this can certainly be enjoyable and is quite normal, doing this for too long too often can lead to attention deficits.

Active screen time, on the other hand, involves interaction with the content. Some popular active screen time activities include computer games that involve problem-solving and online courses. Moderation is still key for this segment, but there are cognitive benefits from these activities, including problem-solving and spatial awareness.

Why is active screen time important?

Active screen time has become more important since COVID-19. Many children have been forced into learning from home using a screen. The loss of human interaction at school, combined with more screen interaction for homework means there is less face-to-face time for many children. Hybrid learning includes a lot of passive screen time watching videos, which keeps kids on tablets and computers for longer periods of time with little to no engagement.

This has left a gap for many parents, who are used to children actively engaging with other children and teachers during most of the day. On top of that, the opportunities for interaction outside the classroom have decreased as a result of parks and indoor playgrounds being closed or restricted.

For parents, this means searching for active screen time activities to keep children engaged.

What are the most important aspects of active screen time?

There are a variety of active screen time activities, ranging from facetime calls with friends and family to video games. While all active screen time activities pose benefits over passive screen time, there are elements of these activities that make them better options than others.

Adult supervision

One of the most important things to consider is how active screen time is monitored. Many parents are juggling multiple things at once, making it difficult for them to actively monitor the screen time of their kids. For that reason, if you are looking for an active screen time activity for your child, you should look for an activity that includes some level of supervision from a trained professional.

Educational opportunities

The purpose of active screen time is to provide some level of educational opportunity for children. Whether it is learning a new skill, such as an online language course for kids, or incorporating some problem-solving skills, it is important to consider what a child will get out of the activity before choosing it.


While active screen time is better than passive screen time, it is still important to manage just how much time children are spending in front of a screen. When it comes to selecting the best active screen time activity for a child, you should consider how much time they can spend with the activity. Video games are great learning tools, but they can also go on forever, leading to hours and hours of time spent in front of a screen. A better option is to select an activity that has a specific timeframe and regular meeting schedule.

The future of learning

In most respects, online learning is the future of learning for most children. From elementary through college, most kids are going to do much of their learning online. Engaging in active screen time as a child does not only have cognitive benefits but can also prepare kids for the future. The more comfortable children are interacting through online portals and platforms, the more they will be able to get out of lessons being taught at school.

When it comes to choosing an active screen activity for your child, be sure to consider the information discussed in this article. With so much time spent in front of screens, the activities you choose for your child can have a big impact on their cognitive functions. Choosing an activity that has supervision from a trained instructor, has obvious educational benefits and is limited to specific timeframes will give your child the best chance for success.

You can contact us at Berlitz to discuss our online language programs for kids and our online programming course for kids. All our courses feature trained adult supervision and set schedules.