Or play Fortnite. Or scroll through Instagram. For hours.
While that can be fun for them, the Partnership also wants to encourage families to get their children outside and active. Data from our youth surveys indicate that youth spend 3+ hours on screens during the school year. We’re certain that amount increases over the summer. We also know that youth are becoming less active and more isolated.
How can parents support their kids’ interests (like Fortnite or connecting with friends over social media) while also encouraging them to get outside, connect with others in person, and be active? Without screaming?
Three words: Goals, Responsibilities, Limits.
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. Giving them a role in the house helps to build their sense of independence and responsibility. And it 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.
Limits: Yes, you can set limits on the amount of time your children are on their devices!
Kids will probably argue. Ok, some will fight like a wild horse. But part of our job as parents is to set limits and expectations for them. In fact, children of all ages crave structure and limits (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 some limits. On when (No screens between 10p and 10a), where (no screens at meals, in the bedroom, or in the car).
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”.
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.