As the summer-long holidays commence around the world, it is certainly different this year. Parents are actively looking for ways to engage their children during the lockdown as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Many physical summer camps have been cancelled. And one of the big concerns is how to avoid screen time meltdowns this Summer.
We all know that children spend more time on screens and media at a young age than ever before. In a bid to help families curb their use, the American Academy of Pediatrics has published guidelines for numerical screening limits. In addition, the World Health Organization recommends screen time for children under age 5 is one hour or less and for those under age 1 is no time at all on a daily basis.
Even if not all screen times are the same, we all recognize that there is no magic number in reality as to what is considered enough or too much when it comes to screentime.
5 Brilliant Ways to Avoid Screen Time Meltdown this Summer
1. Set up Family Screen Time
Before the summer gets into full swing it is advisable that parents set up family screen time guidelines. It is advisable that you set this with your children. You can use this tool here to set your family media plan and screen time use. In today’s wired world, there is so much available for children to get involved in. These include video games, TV shows, films, books, music, etc.
2. Communicate and explain to them
There are several studies that have claimed that excessive screen time can damage the brain’s ability to process information, memory and attention span. You want to explain to the children that you must put limits in place for their own good. Additionally, it is important to note that excessive screentime can adversely affect children’s eyesight.
3. Create other options
Be creative and ensure that there are ways for your child to spend less time on the screen at home. For example, this can include picking up a new hobby, playing board games, spending quality time with them and letting them suggest offline activities they would be interested in.
4. Monitor their usage with parental software
Because of the nature of technology and being online as addictive, it is highly recommended that parents put some rules in place that they can monitor. With the right parental monitoring software, parents can set limits, block the internet at certain times and also have “digital sunset” which is a time for devices to also go to bed.
However, remember that rules without a relationship will simply lead to rebellion. As an intentional parent, be sure to have conversations with your child about screen time expectations for the summer. Also actively offer offline opportunities and activities.
5. Encourage quality screen time activities
With schools out of session, you should strive to ensure that screen time is a combination of educative and entertaining content. In place of physical summer camps, you can sign up your children to various virtual summer camps. This was they will be staying engaged and learning at the same time. Because they need to connect with friends, you can help them plan or encourage virtual playdates and other ways to connect with friends online. Some of this does include video games, as advised by my son!