It’s that time of year again; schools are letting out for the summer! Before you know it, you will be hearing the dreaded, “I’m bored!” “There is nothing to do!” “No one will play with me!” Before you allow the kids to quash their boredom with the latest app, their favorite electronic game, etc., let’s look at a few tips that will encourage your family to have a summer with less screen time.
- Earning screen time.
Take time to collaborate with your kids to develop rules everyone can buy into for kids to earn the use of their devices. Rules may include completing household chores, engaging in educational activities (e.g. reading for 30 minutes), or humanitarian activities (e.g. helping an elderly neighbor). Kids should be held to completing the agreed upon guidelines before using their electronic of choice.
- Encourage participation in other activities.
Electronics should not be the “go-to” choice of the summer. Instead, parents can encourage kids and teens to pick other activities to engage in prior to turning on the electronics. Parents may encourage kids to participate in a group activity (e.g. a sport, a camp, or a library club) or in activities that will allow them to develop individual interests (e.g. learning about and building bottle rockets, learning to identify plants or bugs, trying a new hobby or art technique).
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- Be an example.
As parents, children will follow our example and imitate the things they see us doing. If you want to see your kids on their electronics less, monitor your own use of electronics. Take time to engage your kids in the activities that they enjoy. By taking an interest in your kids interest you are affirming that they and their interests are important.
- Have fun!
Limiting screen time is not about punishment and that needs to be communicated to kids who are used to spending a lot of their time on electronics. Ultimately, summer break is a time where kids should be having fun!
Alysha is a licensed counselor at Arbor Counseling. She provides mental health services for people of all ages, families, and couples. Alysha specializes in working with adolescents and individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities. She is also a Ph.D. student and professor.