Or watch YouTube videos.
Or play Fortnite.
Or scroll through Instagram.
Data from our youth surveys indicate that Arlington high school youth spend 9+ hours on screens during the school year. We’d bet that amount increases over the summer. We also know that youth are becoming less active and more isolated.
How do parents support their kid’s online lives while also encouraging them to go outside, connect with others in person, and be active without screaming?
Three words: Limits. Goals. Responsibilities.
Limits: Yes, you can set limits on the amount of time your children are on their devices!
Kids may argue. Or whine. Or complain. And yes, some will fight like a wild horse. And part of our job as parents is to set expectations for them. In fact, children of all ages crave structure (though they never admit it to you!). A group of actual teens suggested this advice for parents: “When you make rules, don’t cave-in when we argue with you! Be ready to compromise, but don’t just give up.” So set limits! On when (no screens between 10p and 10a), where (no screens at meals, in the bedroom, or in the car). Use timers.
Be sure to also define when they CAN be on a device. Maybe after doing a Summer Screentime Checklist, courtesy of wunder-mom.com. It asks kids to complete some basic chores, but also to “create something” and “play outside”.
Goals: For some kids, this might imply work. But a goal for them can be something they want to try. What is are some activities or local places they might want to explore? Who are some friends they’d like to meet up with? This Tech Talk Tuesday article offers some ways to help kids set goals for the summer.
Responsibilities: Summer is a great time for our kids to take on additional responsibilities at home. They can contribute around the house in ways large and small. Sweeping floors, folding laundry, wiping up the bathroom, preparing a meal or two each week. Give them a roles in the household to help build their sense of independence and responsibility. Which happens to be an important factor for successful employment. Check out this Ted Talk by Julie Lythcott-Haims. It can also help with the next part.
With a little planning and conversation, your family can make kids’ devices part of summer fun! Here are a few additional resources for parents on screen and device use:
- Netsmartz.org – offers video tutorials on online security and more.
- Commonsensemedia.org – is a go-to site for movies and games, but also provides a variety of ideas, resources and information for parents and children on healthy screen use.
- Healthychildren.org – created by the American Academy of Pediatrics, this site gives families an online use calculator and media consumption plan.
- and just for fun the Holderness Family!