Parents, we know you’ve been there. You’re busy finishing a project, making dinner, cleaning up the house (or all of the above) so you turn on the TV to occupy your child and before you know it Netflix has taken them through 8 episodes of PJ Masks. Now that school is out screen time is far more accessible than during the school year, especially with the blistering temperatures and summer storms we experience here in Florida. Most parents are in agreement with a “minimal screen time” rule, however it can be far more difficult to monitor and implement these rules during the summertime.
There is nothing wrong with a little screen time. In fact it can be great entertainment on a rainy day, and often offers valuable learning opportunities. But everything good needs moderation, so as you map out summer activities for your family be sure to set reasonable limits to ensure your children don’t spend their summer in the screen time abyss.
Set the standards ahead of time. Have a conversation about media consumption and expectations. Choose to handle this in the way that best fits your family dynamic. Whether it be a definitive schedule or just a general guideline, the main goal is to ensure everyone is on the same page for how much media consumption is allowed.
Make them work for it. Screen time is a privilege, not a right, so make them put in a little effort for it. Maybe you make them finish their daily chores, read a book, practice a sport or play their favorite instrument instrument before allowing them indulge in their favorite media consumption activities. However you make them work for it, it’s important to establish that you don’t have to let them have screen time, you choose to.
Encourage face to face conversations. Too much screen time can influence social interaction. Take the time to sit down and have real time conversations with your children. Try implementing “device-free-dinner” so you have a chance to talk uninterrupted. Keep the conversation going by discussing the highs and lows of the day, you might even learn something about your kids that you didn’t know before!
Start a new (device-free) tradition. Quality time and activities are important to a family dynamic. Pick an activity that your family loves (camping, arts and crafts, swimming, playing hide-and-seek, etc.) and make sure you are doing it on a regular basis. Trust us, your kids will be more than happy to ditch devices for a little while.
Lead by example. You can’t expect your kids to limit their screen time if you aren’t. Practice what you preach and limit your own screen time. Not only will this help keep your kids accountable, but it will also instill the qualities such as patience, honesty, and dependability by teaching them the importance of keeping their word.
There is no “right way” to limit screen time. Use these ideas as a guide to tailor screen time rules in a way that best fits your family. Remember, Your Kid’s Urgent Care is open all summer long to keep your activities and plans on track. But most importantly enjoy this summer with your little ones!