Getting Ready for Summer
Balancing technology at the summer time.
I just got off my LIFT ride, where I had a wonderful and enlightening conversation with my driver about screen time (a female driver, so refreshing — Girl power!).
She is a mom of a 12 year old boy and a brand new baby girl. After telling her how refreshing it is to see a female driver we started talking about our kids. The first thing she shared with me was her concern on technology time after the school year ends. Her son, like the majority of 12 years old these days, has a phone and loves to spend his time playing games on it, creating music videos using music.ly, and chatting with his friends.
When it’s the school year, her rules are simple, clear, and very strict (second time that I was so impressed). Her rules are two hours of screen time only after finishing homework, and no screens at the bedroom. She is constantly bringing up technology usage time at their dinner table and it seems to be, for them, under control.
As I was praising her that I love how they have that open dialogue on what he consumes and how much he consumes she brought up her problem, one I started hearing more and more of from other parents as well, and that is the upcoming summer break.
“How should I manage the phone and video games when there is no structure or a reason to limit?”
“I know he will be on it all the time, but I have no say now because it’s not a school year.”
That’s where I corrected her. Yes, the school year is coming to an end and everyone is looking forward for the break. But a break does not mean weeks of camping in the room with the phone or other video games.
Our kids need to balance technology time when there is school and when there is a break and it is our job to help and guide them.
How do we moderate our children’s screen time during the summer break?
Start with setting up expectations — have a conversation with your kids about what you expect and hear from them, what they expect the summer to be. With this open dialogue you have better chances to get to an understanding. Maybe it will not be two hours a day but three?!
Set simple guidelines to when technology is allowed. For example, during the school year their phone was not allowed during the nighttime, or even better it’s located in its “new home”. The Summer break is no reason to change that. On the other hand there is no homework, so the rule of screen time after homework is no longer relevant. How about no screen time before 3pm?
Alternatives — What can our children do during the break that does not involve screen time? Go to the beach or the pool with their friends, spend time at the park, checkout the local zoo, taking a special class, go for a hike, camping, discover a new hobby, are they doing any day-camp? For older kids it’s a perfect opportunity to earn some extra cash babysitting, work as a lifeguard at the local pool, checkout mom or dad’s work…Be creative and versatile. We do not want boredom sucking them back to all-day technology time.
Hope you enjoy the upcoming break and manage to balance fun time, free time, and technology time!