Tips on Managing Screen Time During Summer

As we enter into the final weeks of the school year, we are all extra busy trying to fit it so much in. Summer break is right around the corner, and many of us are looking forward to having a little more free time.

But what activities will fill that time? Screen-based activities will be more enticing than ever. Are you ready? Frankly, I know it will be a challenge in my home. I have been thinking of things I plan to do and I thought I would share them here: 

  1. Adjust your family’s screen time contract: The agreements you made together about when and where screens are appropriate are probably geared toward life during the school year. They might need a little tweaking to fit your new summer schedules and activities. I would say the number one rule still should be to take the screens out of the bedroom at a reasonable hour. I was speaking with a sleep expert colleague today at Stony Brook and she hopes the American Pediatrics Association will put this in their new guidelines — we will know soon. 
  2. Make a screens-on/off vacation plan: Consider guidelines about screen use during road trips, flights, and family time while you’re away on vacation together. Even if you have always allowed your kids to be on their phones in the car, it's perfectly reasonable to change it up for a trip. In my family, we listen to podcasts together during long car rides. We all enjoy Planet Money and Freakonomics.
  3. Fight fire with fire: Try using technology to help you help your kids to limit their screen time. For example, the app OurPact, has a way for you to turn off your child's social media for any amount of time. You might agree that there should be four hours in the middle of the day where there will be no phone apps.
  4.  Identify positive screen activities: Direct your child toward places to play pro-social games or learn new skills like programming or video editing. Did you know that on average kids only spend 3% of their tech time doing content creation such as making videos or composing music on Garageband? Once they get over the hurdle of just starting to do it, you (and they) will see how productive, relaxed and... CREATIVE they feel!
  5.  Subscribe to Tech Talk Tuesdays from the Screenagers website: Sign up here to receive weekly ideas about conversations you can have with your family about a healthy approach to screen time. Last week, for example, we tackled how to navigate a tricky situation — sticking to your family screen use guidelines when friends are over..