Summer is almost here. Time to get off our electronics, take a vacation and enjoy the sun. It's not that easy is it? Limiting screen time for you and your kids can be a challenge and is very frustrating, but it something all of us need to focus on. It can be hard to set limits on technology because many of us parents count on screens to give us a break from the kids. Also, many of our jobs revolve around some use of technology. As I've stated and as studies show, technology can be very addicting especially to young minds and if unchecked, it can lead to irritability, obesity, and sleeplessness. Not sure where to start, follow the steps that I use in my household to limit screen time.
1. Parents, you have to set the example. Your kids pick up screen habits from you. If you’re constantly checking your phone and meddling with your devices, your kids are going to mimic your habits. You need to check your own habits if you hope to put limits on your kids screen time. If you have to use your device for work, do it while they’re at daycamp, or outside, or when they’re tucked into bed.
2. Set boundaries up front. Let your kids know that there will be limits to how much television they watch and how often they play on their phones or tablets. Don’t be too strict however it’s hard to expect your kids to completely go cold turkey on technology this summer. Set up time such as no screen time until the afternoon and only after household chores are done.
3. Summer is a good time to cut the cord. Ditching your cable service is switching to a streaming service is a good way to cut down on screen time (yes watching the boob tube is considered screen time). If you stream Using a device such as a Roku, Amazon fire stick or a Google Chrome cast, you can simply remove the device from the television to stop too much television time. Most of your favorite shows will be on summer hiatus, but steaming shows means you can chose how much TV you watch.
4. Give yourself and your kids alternatives to technology for entertainment. A lot of movies are based on books, now might be the time to find the inspiration to those summer flicks and introduce your kids to some new reading material. It may not look like it, but with the popularity of all of the comic book movies, grab some comics and let them keep up on the adventures of their favorite comic book heroes. Also STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) toys for a good alternative to playing on technology. Lego video games are very popular. Now might be the time to introduce them to a real set of Legos. One last thing, getting out and exercising is always a great alternative to technology.
5. No screens in the bedroom. You should collect all of your kids electronics at bedtime and store them in a place that only you can access. In the summer months you can be tempting for your child to head right to bed and continue to play electronics or to pop up in the morning and grab that smart phone or tablet.If you are in control of their devices, then the less they will be able to access them. That goes for you too ... if you can help it. Screens will disrupt your sleep.
Even with all this technology available, don’t underestimate the small pleasures that can be found with a mix of your favorite gadgets and old-school activities. Don't let screen time make you and your kids from missing out on a happy and healthy summer. How do you cut down on screen time in your household? Drop me a line and let me know.