“There is no Wi-Fi in the forest but I promise you will find a better connection”
– Author Uknown
Summer is here!
And with it, the age-old parenting conundrum of how to keep the kids entertained during the school holidays.
But the answer doesn’t have to be screen time!
In fact, with a little know-how, the summer holidays are a fantastic opportunity for a family digital detox. Here’s why and how you can actually enjoy it!
The danger of digital daycare
For many kids, the summer holidays is an open door to more screen time.
According to a recent survey by Groupon, the average US family will spend just under six hours a day staring at smartphones, tablets, computers, TV’s and other devices.
Combined, that’s 35 days spent looking at screens – or roughly one-third of the summer.
And during that period, the average child will watch 60 films and spend 150 hours gaming!
More sunshine, less screen time
Sure, a bit of Minecraft and You Tube can help fill a long summer day.
But it can be all too easy to hand over screens whenever your kids utter “I’m bored”…
…at the cost of of other active or creative screen-free activities.
“Children need to sit in their own boredom for the world to become quiet enough that they can hear themselves. It is only when we are surrounded by nothing that something comes alive on the inside”. – Dr. Vanessa Lapointe
And, it’s up to us to set a good example (even when Facebook calls to us from our phones).
While worrying about their kids’ excessive screen time, parents sometimes forget their own.
And our kids definitely notice… big time!
So, screen-free time is good for you, your kids and your family.
Our 6 top tips for a digital detox this summer
#1 Screen limits
Let’s be clear.
A digital detox DOES NOT have to mean going cold-turkey on screen time.
Balanced screen time habits create great opportunities for learning, collaboration and FUN!
And not all screen time is created equal. Some screen time can be wholly beneficial for kids!
Instead, use a digital detox as an excuse for you and your kids to unplug from technology.
And seek a balance between screen-free and screen-based activities.
In doing so, you can explore where tech helps – and hinders – your family.
So start your digital detox by establishing screen time limits. (For kids AND parents).
These simply set out when screens can be used, when they can’t and for how long each day.
Depending on the age of your child, 2 hours screen time per day is a potential starting point.
What’s another way to help tame excessive screen time when the kids are on their summer holidays?
Keep your kids busy with screen-free alternatives!
These can be activities at home (like board games or science experiments). Days out with the family (like going swimming or a trip to the beach) or even everyday household chores.
And they shouldn’t cost the earth.
Often, the very best can be done from the comfort of home! (Indoor camping anyone?)
For an extra dose of fun, have your kids brainstorm screen-free activity ideas, write them on a small piece of paper, fold them over and place them in a glass jar.
Then, whenever they’re bored, have them pull out activities from the jar!
But if you’re stuck for ideas, try the Habyts Activity Finder for size.
It’s crammed with over 600+ activities for you and your family to try. So give it a whirl!
#3 Home hacks
It’s all well and good setting screen time limits…
but if your home environment is working against you, you’re already on the back foot.
With so many screens on hand at home, what’s a parent to do?
Just start with few small changes to make your home less conducive to screen time.
The goal here is to promote an environment which naturally favours face-to-face interactions, shared activities and productivity over solo screen time.
So screen time isn’t the default go-to activity for your kids.
We wrote a blog all about them called Six Home Hacks To Less Screen Time. (Go check it out!)
You can even download and print this great Cheat Sheet to get you started.
RELATED: Want screen time routine without drama? Get our FREE Guide: How to Prepare Your Kids for a Screen Routine…that Works for YOUR Family!
#4 Role model
It’s not just kids who have problems taming screen time.
Despite this oversight, the vast majority of parents believe they are good tech role models!
But if you really want to tame screen time…
…you have to practice what you preach.
And by taking part in a family digital detox, you’ll be amazed how much time you save!
So, pay attention to your screen time. After all, if your kids see you swiping away on your screen when they’re not allowed theirs – you’re just begging for tantrums.
#5 Quality time
So, you’ll want to make best use of your new-found “free time” away from screens.
Take a pledge and write down specific goals to spend more time with the kids this summer!
It can be as small as making family meal time a regular thing…
Or something more significant, like carving out an evening (or two) every week for a family night. (Think of it as ‘date night’ but with the kids).
And remember, a digital detox doesn’t mean you have to ditch screens completely.
Family movie nights are allowed, providing all other screens are left in a tech drop zone.
And if you’re off on vacation, use this as the perfect opportunity to leave those non-essential screens behind. Switch off your smartphone when out in the wilderness. And only use the hotel WI-FI to look up other fun family activities you can do during your stay.
#6 Be consistent
Let’s be honest…reducing our reliance on technology can be hard, even for a few days.
And teaching kids good screen time habits can be time-consuming and emotionally draining.
Whether it’s managing the quantity or quality of screen time, setting sensible limits or enforcing screen time rules…a lack of consistency can kill the good intentions.
So what kills consistency?
Hectic lives. Multiple devices. Shifting schedules. Ever-changing technology!
Many parents are just trying to stay ahead of daily screen time skirmishes.
But our accelerating screen use doesn’t negate the need for consistent habits.
All kids require some level of structure, routine and consistency to build good habits. (And parents need better tools to help kids build those habits in the modern world).
Whether it’s responsible screen usage or other life skills…that’s just how habits work!
So be consistent with your screen time limits and rules this summer.
And if you really want to tame screen time, consider a screen time solution!
With Habyts you can:
- Easily enforce sensible Time Limits & Schedules.
- Filter harmful websites & Protect Your Kids
- Require daily Tasks to be done…Before Screen Time.
And once summer’s over, help your family keep those positive screen time habits in place.
Take the learning from your summer digital detox…
and take steps to ensure family life revolves around (you guessed it!) family, not screens.