If witnessing your kids laying around on devices after school and on weekends is making you crazy now, how are you going to feel this summer when the time off beckons constant screen usage?
Become your child’s media mentor and make a plan to intentionally decrease screen use in your family this summer.
1. Design a sustainable low tech summer family plan
If you don’t state your desires and expectations in advance, your kids will think nothing of wasting their summer days binge-watching Netflix, endlessly playing Roblox or scrolling through Youtube tutorial after tutorial.
Our goal should be to purposely create more distance between ourselves and our digital devices this summer.
To our kids, having more downtime for mindless entertainment is a perk of the summer months. As parents, we know technology is addicting and we need to have guidelines in place for screen time if we want our kids to see the light of day before September.
Talk with your kids about why you want to minimize screen usage this summer. Then decide together what your summer boundaries might look like.
How much time is too much time to spend on a device daily?
Your kids won’t understand your concerns and they won’t like whatever boundaries you decide to put in place. Aren’t they lucky to have you, who knows better, to lead them well? Parent on.
2. Have your kids name their summer essentials
What does your son or daughter want to accomplish before school starts back up again? Kids need to learn to be productive before being entertained. Help them name their essentials which are things that must be done before screen time.
Summer reading is essential in our family. Our teens have several lengthy novels to complete before the start of the next school year, so reading is an essential part of their time off from school. Our youngest has signed up for the public library summer reading program.
Help your children understand that screen time is a non-essential that comes after the essentials have been accomplished. Think of time on technology as a reward this summer.
Can you designate one screen-free day each week?
Begin to make digital detoxing a habit. Sundays are mostly screen-free in our family. We’ve allowed devices in the morning before church. When we get home we make lunch together and busy ourselves with other things besides technology. Slime is made, puzzles get done, games are played, books get read, instruments get used and relationships are strengthened. Creativity has the opportunity to blossom on screen-free days.
If you can’t commit to an entire day, then choose an intentional block of time that your family puts away devices on purpose. If your kids have trouble self-regulating their usage, help them better manage their screen time by turning on Screen Time on their IOS devices. If you are daring, change the wifi code nightly so that your children aren’t able to get online each day until their essentials are complete.
3. Design a screen-free summer bucket list
It’s fine to have some downtime on devices. Technology provides a way to connect with our loved ones and to learn from others about how the world operates around us. Unfortunately, it will also provide us with never-ending mindless entertainment if we’re not careful.
Make a list of screen-free things you want to do as a family this summer. If you don’t proactively create time together, family members will simply default to their devices because it’s just too easy not to.
What can we do this summer to strengthen our family relationships? Our marriage? Our friendships?
4. Send your kids to a screen-free summer camp
Sleep-away camp is a purposeful part of our family’s summer plan. Our kids leave their technology behind and head off to Kanakuk camp near Branson, Missouri for several weeks each summer. All Snapchat streaks must come to an end when a child heads off to camp.
Our sons and daughter learn how to build relationships face to face through their experiences at Kanakuk as there are no screens to hide behind when they get uncomfortable or bored. There are no video games to play or social media channels to scroll. They spend their time on the lake and in cabins in the woods strengthening their souls. It is a carefree time that we believe strongly in providing for our kids’ healthy development.
Sending your kids to a screen-free summer camp that fits your family values is an amazing way to help kids build traits that they certainly can’t gain from hanging out on the leather sofa watching recorded shows.
Don’t allow screens to overtake your child’s summer. Instead, strategize with your sons and daughters to help them make this time a restorative and productive time off.