Every summer, parents start with great intentions for limiting their child or teen’s screen time and encouraging them to get out more, join a summer sport, get a part-time job, or otherwise engage with the world around them. Then, the summer rush begins, and all our good intentions go out the window as our kids sleep until noon and spend the whole day zoning out in front of their tablets. No shame here. We get it! In this blog, we’re going to give you some tips for directing your child or teen away from their screens, but when you run out of ideas, it’s okay to relent. Don’t be too hard on yourself. If you’re genuinely worried that too much time watching TV or playing games on their devices is having a negative impact on your child, the Family Connections Therapy team is here to help. We offer therapy for adults, children and teens, and families.
Set & Keep Consistent Screen Time Limits
This is at once the easiest and most difficult way to get kids away from their screens. Set a limit on the amount of daily screen time and stick with it. Kids will start to find other things that interest them to fill their time! However, there may be a lot of whining that leads to a strong desire to give them back their screens. Try to be consistent and help your kids discover other activities to fill their days.
Create Media-Free Times & Zones
If setting and consistently enforcing your child’s limited screen time becomes difficult, consider creating spaces or times of the day that are media-free. For example, only allow your child to use their tablet or smartphone in the living room, not the bedroom. Some parents have media-free meals, so your child or teen is engaging with family instead of their screens. Maybe you have a game room in your house, and smartphones and tablets aren’t allowed. Whatever way you can find to limit your child’s (and your own!) screen time, just stay consistent.
Screen Time Isn’t a Treat
It’s really easy to fall into the trap of using screen time as a reward for good behavior and taking it away as a punishment. Again, we get it! Unfortunately, this might make your child feel even more attached to their screens. Instead, treat screen time as any other activity. It’s just one thing they can do to pass time. It’s not the only thing. By reminding them of this and giving them other things to do that are fun (not just chores and homework), you can begin to help your child create a healthier relationship with their screens.
Do Other Fun Things
We mentioned this above, but it’s essential that kids have other fun outlets. If streaming shows or playing games on their devices is all that they do for entertainment, it only makes sense that they’ll want to spend more time using those devices. Help kids find other fun ways to pass the time. Playing board games, making art, listening to or performing music, reading, going outside, riding a bike, spending time with friends. The list is endless. Remember when you were a child (maybe before screen time was a thing), what did you do during the summer? Help kids find their fun thing that isn’t a screen.
Work with a Therapist
Okay, this isn’t really a fun thing to do for most kids and families, but maybe it should be! At Family Connections Therapy, we can help parents create plans to manage their child’s summer fun, including setting screen time limits, and we can help children and teens find their “thing” outside of their screens. If you need a little extra help finding ways to keep kids safe, busy, and happy, let’s talk about it. Get in touch with us today to determine whether or not therapy may be a good option for your family.