Summertime! Part 8: Reducing Screen Time
Summertime is a time where there is a lot of downtime, late lazy mornings, and long hot days where it’s easy to fall into our kids getting a little too much screen time. Sometimes it’s rainy, sometimes it’s too hot to go outside, so it can be tempting to get sucked into vegging out and watching movies or playing games all day.
More than two hours of screen time per day can cause children’s brains to shrink and lose volume, leading to brain imbalance. Too much screen time can also trigger sensory overload, negatively influence a child’s sleeping patterns and lead to “screen addiction,” especially if the child spends hours playing video games.
Here are some ways to limit screen time with your kids this summer:
- Engage them in summer educational opportunities. Have them study in a foreign language class, complete workbooks on the road or attend art or science-related workshops at museums and nature centers.
- Physical Activities. Ropes courses, athletic training, basketball or baseball camps, swimming lessons and summer teams are all fun ways to get older children active and away from digital media this summer.
- If it’s too hot outside, try reading with a book light in a cool and quiet room; naps; swimming; making chilled foods such as smoothies and fruit kebabs; playing with glow-in-the-dark toys in a dark room and hiking near lakes or oceans.
- Enlist their help: Involve children in part of meal and snack preparation, as well as clean-up.
- Surprise them: Put together a bag or box containing activities that children don’t normally do. This will keep the children busy during times you need to do other tasks.
- Get crafty: Provide coloring sheets or make greeting cards for upcoming holidays or birthdays.
- Make a viewing calendar. Choose your favorite television shows and mark them on the calendar. Turn on the TV just for those shows and turn it off afterwards.
- No TV dinners. Watching TV while eating dinner makes it easier to continue sitting and watching TV after you’ve finished with your meal. Use mealtime as a time when you take turns talking about your day or even planning what activity you will do as a family when you are done eating.
- No TV or electronics in the bedroom. I am a firm believer that bedrooms are for sleeping, not watching TV. Spending time in their room watching television also removes them from family time.
- Set a good example. You need to be a good role model and limit your screen time to no more than two hours per day, too. If your kids see you following your own rules, then they’ll be more likely to do the same.
Thanks for reading my blog about reducing screen time in the summer! I hope these tips are valuable to you, and if they are, please share!