How to keep kids off the screens and active this summer
Summer is here, and with the warmer weather comes more free time for your children to fill. These days, the temptation to increase screen time is hard to resist, but teaching your kids to balance device use is important for both their physical health and emotional well-being.
Limiting screen time this summer helps encourage your children to spend more time reading, playing outside and enjoying other healthy activities. There’s no need to eliminate device use completely, but there are some ways to make sure things don’t get out of hand.
- Set a good example. Before you reprimand your kids for their reliance on mobile devices, make sure you are practicing what you preach. It’s important to model the behavior you want your children to emulate. Of course, there are some grown-up activities that require the use of a laptop or phone, so be sure to explain the reason behind your digital tool use.
- Specify device windows and time limits. One way to limit screen time is to establish “technology-free” times throughout the day. Require the entire family to unplug and focus on spending time together. These are great opportunities to establish other offline activities like walks and game nights.
An easy time to eliminate tech is during meals. It’s the perfect time to show interest in your children’s lives and ask them to discuss their day or an opinion on a variety of topics. This will help create more intimate bonds and promote a healthy family dynamic.
You should also establish tech curfews. Require the family to charge their devices outside the bedroom during sleeping hours. Keeping screens powered off and out of reach will help lead to better sleep habits.
During the school year, it is also a good idea to eliminate screen time when your kids are studying or working on school projects. Unless internet research is required to complete homework, keeping electronics turned off will help them focus and be more successful.
- Designate specified tech areas. As your kids get older, they will want to use their devices in their own private spaces, but try keeping tech in the public areas of the home. For younger children, monitor what content they are consuming and maintain clear rules about what is age-appropriate and in line with your family values.
- Make screen time a reward. Sometimes, the lack of screen time can feel like a punishment to children, so make sure they have ways to earn their device time. Maybe after completing a certain set of chores or reading enough pages of a book, they can gain access to their favorite shows or games.
During the school year, require the completion of all homework assignments before the use of their favorite tech.
- Get outside the Wi-Fi zone. Or course, one of the best ways to reduce screen time is to get outside the Wi-Fi border and away from your digital devices all together. Bike rides, trips to the museum or a family bowling night are all great ways to get yourself and the kids out of the house and involved in positive activities.
This summer, drop the tablet, turn off the cellphone and let the computer get some sleep. With sunnier and longer days, it’s the perfect time to get back to the basics—practicing healthier lifestyle habits with the entire family.