Screen time is always an issue for parents these days. I get so many questions about how much is too much screen time for my child? What apps should my child use? When should I get my child a smartphone?
These are tough questions in a world with an ever-changing technology and social media landscape. One thing I tell every parent is establish healthy boundaries for your child and his screen time. With summer approaching, your child may be tempted to be online even more than usual. Don’t let this happen! Decide now what your screen time rules and boundaries will be to let this summer be as screen-free as possible.
Several years ago, when my kids were young, we turned off the T.V. at the beginning of summer and kept it off for the entire months of June, July, and August. This was before social media and smartphones when T.V. was the center of our kids’ lives.
I’ll be honest, the first two weeks of summer were miserable. We were so used to noise and distraction, we didn’t know what to do with ourselves. But eventually, our kids got used to it. They began inviting friends over, we spent more time together as a family, and by the time September rolled around, they didn’t even want to turn the T.V. back on!
Take this as inspiration for your summer. What do you want it to look like? What do you want your child to experience? How would too much screen time take away from this? While I’m not here to tell you exactly what your child’s screen time rules should be this summer, I do have some tips as you’re thinking through your family’s rules and boundaries.
Don’t go cold turkey.
The trick is to not go completely screen-free, at least, not right at first. My family went cold turkey with T.V. watching, but smartphones are their own beast and many children who are addicted to them or to video games or to other devices could have a negative reaction to going screen-free right away, ruining your chance for a more unplugged summer.
Wean your children off his devices. Start with an hour less per day, or two hours less if you think he can handle it.
Remember, boredom is not the enemy.
It’s OK for your child to feel like she has nothing to do without her phone. Imagination and creativity thrive in boredom. It is good for kids to have to figure out what to do with their time. You don’t have to fill every screen-free moment for them. Give your child some space and see what she comes up with. She might surprise you.