Follow these helpful tips to manage your child’s tech time this summer. Whether your children are too young for school or on summer vacation, it’s always important to teach your children to use technology in a responsible way. These skills will follow them into adulthood, helping them to find a healthy balance with technology. Children develop social skills at a young age. It’s important to manage screen time so they can engage with the outside world and grow. Our dependency on technology is ever changing and growing. Managing tech usage is certainly a challenge! Here are a few ways you can create balance in your child’s daily tech usage.
5 Ways to Manage Tech Time this Summer
Set screen time limits.
Most devices allow you to turn on parental controls, to ensure young kids only view appropriate content. Certain apps give children an allotted amount of time to use the device with a countdown clock, and then lock the device when time is up. Set these limits to keep your kids safe and healthy. It’s also important to set screen time limits for everyone at home. For example, have “technology free time” during family meals, car rides, and bedtime. Schedule tech time daily, so children can only use the device between a specific timeframe—e.g., using the tablet from 4-5pm each day in their bedroom for some alone time.
Distinguish between healthy and unhealthy tech time.
Tech devices like tablets, phones, and laptops have healthy and unhealthy effects. It’s important to regulate tech time accordingly. For example, spending an hour watching 2-minute YouTube videos is not the same as using a painting program to learn drawing skills. Let your child draw on the tablet for longer than watching “epic fail” videos online. Teach your children the difference between mindless entertainment and technology use for personal growth. There’s nothing wrong with watching some fluff videos! But it is necessary to manage that time and instill that sense of time management in children. When they learn to distinguish between the types of tech time, they will manage their time better later in life.
Reward and discipline using screen time.
By treating technology as a reward and not a “given,” children will value the time they have. Once you have set your screen time limits, offer more tech time as a reward or less as a punishment. If you find your kids are not respecting the rules and turning on their devices, turn off the Wi-Fi! It may seem like a drastic step, but it’s effective and reinforces the rule—for everyone in the family, not just the kids!
Turn tech time into co-play time between parent and child.
Make tech time a bonding experience! Play an app game together. Watch a video or movie in bed together. Technology allows you to co-play with your child and spend time together. Even when your children are focused on the screen, they still benefit from your presence and social engagement.
Model and reinforce positive screen time behavior.
Whenever it’s “play time,” suggest your children play with other items before tech devices: books, puzzles, board games, stickers. Personalized storybooks are especially ideal for engaging children, as they see their name featured throughout the story! Make technology a low priority or last resort. What better way to enjoy summer vacation than playing outside? Plan family outings. Sign your child up for a sport or summer activity program, to keep them active and stimulated. Model positive behavior by having fun outside and leave your devices. Lead by example so your children can learn positive screen time behavior. When your child just wants to decompress, allow some “down time” with a tech device for the whole family. Above all else, find a healthy balance for your family.
With the summer months ahead, it’s the perfect time to find screen time balance for the whole family. Manage your child’s screen time with some of these tips and enjoy the warm summer days!