Alex and I are media families (Krista’s home alone has 5 cell phones, 1 imac, and 2 laptops).
Media is fun, we like screens, but we also know it’s healthy to be off of them.
Here is what we know: go in with a plan, or it will take over by default. Decide how much screen time is appropriate for your family and then find a way to manage it during the summer days.
The notion of screen time as a one-dimensional activity is changing. Computers, tablets, and smartphones are multipurpose devices that can be used for lots of purposes. Designating their use simply as “screen time” can miss some important variations. The Common Sense Census: Media Use by Tweens and Teens identifies four main categories of screen time.
- Passive consumption: watching TV, reading, and listening to music
- Interactive consumption: playing games and browsing the Internet
- Communication: video-chatting and using social media
- Content creation: using devices to make digital art or music
The AAP (Academy of Pediatrics) will be issuing new recommendations in 2016 emphasizing that not all screen time is equal and that take into account the many different kinds of activities that occur on screens (for example, watching TV is not the same as video-chatting with Grandma).
No matter what kind of media they are consuming, pay attention to how your kids act during and after watching TV, playing video games, or hanging out online. If they’re using high-quality, age-appropriate media; their behavior is positive; and their screen-time activities are balanced with plenty of healthy screen-free ones.
Studies have shown a link between heavy media use and issues such as obesity, lack of sleep, academic challenges, aggression, and other behavior difficulties.
TIPS FOR MANAGING SCREEN TIME
- If your are struggling with getting your kids to be productive, consider implementing the “No Screen Time Until…” approach. What do they need to do BEFORE they get to ask for some screen time?
Possibilities: Chores, reading, Bible study, play outside, active play, creative play/crafting, summer homework
Then still have limits.
Kids will get “lost” in screen time if we let them. Let’s have them get “lost” in make believe, or a hike, or an art project. Sometimes we have to force them to get going, but once they are, they find that they are happy doing the activity.
Marble Jar Idea – kids can earn marbles by doing chores, demonstrating kindness, being responsible, etc. and then get to “cash” them in for screen time.
- Remember: You are the parent and get to make the decisions about what is best for your child when it comes to screen time and media.
This is especially true with teenagers – they will try to get parents to give them freedoms that everyone else has which may or may not be what is best for your family.
Find your courage to stand for what you think is best, and memorize the “I am the parent” mantra.
- Create Screen Free Zones or Screen Free Days
Think about how you can create spaces where screens are not allowed. How about days of the week we put all devices down and check them in?
To hear many more tips and tricks about summer and screen time, watch our quick half an hour video!