When you envision summer vacation with your kids, I bet it involves beach days, backyard picnics, family bike rides, sprinklers, parks and splash pads. And while all these things may very well happen, in reality… most kids will spend WAY more time then we’d like with a screen in their face this summer. My kids included.
So, I’ve decided to make a conscious effort to reduce the amount of screen time our boys have over the summer vacation. During the school year, our house rule is they can only play their electronics on weekends – not on school days. But when summer hits, that rule doesn’t really work. So, for those who are also trying to find ways to reduce the amount screen time this summer, I’ve put together a few different techniques that might help.
Set a Time Limit – Kids will play on their electronics for HOURS if we let them. So, set a time limit. 15 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour – whatever you’re comfortable with. Tell your child BEFORE they start what the time limit is, and when that time is up…the screen goes off and they need to do something else. I find if kids know AHEAD of time how long they have, it’s not as big of an issue when they’re asked to shut off.
Chores First – Most kids have some household chores they’re responsible for. Our guys take care of recycling, cleaning their playroom, putting away their clothes etc. So, if they want some screen time, they must finish their chores first. No chores? No screens. Trust me, kids are MUCH more willing to help out if they know they’ll get their precious iPad or Wii.
Outside/Reading Time – It’s summer. Summer is meant to be enjoyed…OUTDOORS. We like to make sure our boys have a decent amount of outside time each day. So, if you want to encourage a little more time outside, set up a rule that they must have a certain amount of playtime outside before they’re allowed screen time. If it’s raining, make it a certain amount of reading and/or colouring time first.
Set up a Schedule – Let’s say you want your kids to have screen time twice a day. Maybe once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Set up a schedule. Maybe after breakfast and before dinner. Whatever works best for your family. With a screen schedule, your kids will know EXACTLY when they are allowed on their screens and will (hopefully!) stop asking constantly. Tip: set it up for times that YOU need a break. Like while you’re prepping dinner, or during younger kids nap times. Be strategic!
Screen Free Days – If you’re up for it, pick a day or two each week where no screens are allowed! I find when kids know it’s NOT an option, they use their imaginations more. It’s on these days I’ve found our boys in the playroom making up rules to a random game they just invented!
I know it can be hard to monitor screen time since electronic devices are everywhere! I’m even guilty of spending too much time with my face in a screen! So, don’t be too hard on yourself if your child spends more time than you’d like with a screen in their face on any given day. Some days will be more challenging than others. Just use these techniques to help get a better grasp on how MUCH time they spend in front of screens.
Now go. Shut off. Your daily screen time is up! ;)