Once summer hits, our kids are worn out from the school year’s structure and academic loads they carried and they just want to rest, refuel, and recover. These days, that often looks like your kid playing hours of Fortnite or vegging on the couch binge-watching a Netflix series while scrolling through their social media feeds on their phones.
In our current digital age, this is the norm for our kids and the reality of their day-to-day lives, so how can we manage their screen time during the summer? It’s important to set some fundamental screen time rules so our kids have limits to what can often be a digital sinkhole they can drown in during this unstructured season.
It’s unrealistic to expect our kids to completely disconnect from their devices every day, all day, all summer, and their screen time offers them fun entertainment and connection with their friends. It is, however, important to give them a healthy dose of expectations so they can learn to balance their lives with unplugged options that give them much-needed breaks from their digital world.
For starters, it’s important to come up with a general rule for your family’s screen time. You may want to designate specific hours of the day that are officially unplugged or set an overall daily time limit for how much screen time your kids can have. There are various apps that you can use to help them be accountable for their responsible screen time, depending on what you need to enforce your expectations. Set your family’s summer screen time rules at the beginning of the summer so your kids understand how much time they are permitted on their devices.
Once your screen time rules are established, it’s important to give your kids various options and opportunities they can pursue away from their screens.
Check out the following ideas you can offer your kids this summer that will not only be great learning experiences but they will also prove to be fulfilling and rewarding too. With each one of these ideas, your kids can use their devices productively to research their interests, which in turn, will give them more ownership of their choices, consequently helping them to be more successful in following through on the activities they plan.
- Summer is the perfect time for your kid to do volunteer work in your community. Have your kid research volunteer opportunities in your community to sign up and work for on a regular basis. They might groan at the initial thought of doing this, but once they start participating, they will soon learn how good it feels to help others out. This new ‘job’ will not only connect them with others outside of their normal comfort zone, but they will learn new skills and grow to have a better understanding of the needs of people outside of their ‘world’.
- Have your kid get involved in a camp, class, or club. Let your teen do all the work to find the perfect activity to sign up for according to their interests. Is your kid into sports? There are countless specific sports training camps at local schools and recreation centers. Does your kid love creative arts? There are tons of cool classes, creative arts workshops and camps that focus on music, art, crafts, dance, or drama that are offered at your community facilities, performing arts centers, libraries, and schools around town. Maybe your kid is a computer wiz or a book worm, so researching technical camps, classes, book clubs, or signing up for cool summer projects or competitions might be their jam.
- Make time for family outings, cookouts, and activities. It’s important to schedule unplugged family time and enjoy one another’s company while doing some fun summer activities or enjoying a home-cooked meal. Summer is often the season to plan family trips, so include the kids on the details and decisions of your summer travels and give them assignments to research fun destinations and activities to plan while away. Have them map out tourist spots they’d like to visit and set the itinerary for the trip.
- Make time for housework and any home repairs/renovations. Summer is the perfect time to dive into home projects and teach your kids new chores. Maybe your basement needs to be cleaned out and rearranged to make it more comfortable for the kids to hang out, or your kid’s bedroom needs some fresh paint. Ask your kids which areas of the house they would like to work on, and have them come up with some creative ideas, paint colors, or jobs needed to get done to help with the project. Giving them the choice in what they want to see improved in the house, will encourage ownership of their part in the process.
- Have your kids learn a new skill, try a new experience, or visit a new place. Have your kids think of a new skill they have always wanted to learn, or a new local place they have always wanted to visit, or an experience they have always wanted to try. They can use their devices to find locations where they can start those guitar lessons, or try rock climbing or tour that new cool exhibit downtown. Maybe they just want to enjoy a new summer experience they’ve heard about but they’re not sure where or when it happens. There are so many summer outdoor events to enjoy in any town, like various fairs, festivals, concerts, sporting events, or theater productions to name a few.
Our kids need and deserve their downtime during the summer and they’ll love to spend it on social media, playing video games, or watching gobs of tv. It’s important to have those screen time rules set so they find other things to do that will enrich their lives and pull them out of the digital word. Giving them new opportunities to engage away from their screens is great for their physical health and mental well-being.
By the end of the summer, your kids will have learned some new skills, visited some new places and tried some new things. Getting them out of their comfort zone can be the best way to unplug and plug into a world of interests, people, and places they’ve never experienced before. And all of that valuable time will be spent away from their screen.