Creative Approaches in Setting Screen Time Boundaries with Kids this Summer
Summer is here, and kids are out of school! It's time to plan for playdates, bubbles, picnics at the park, and more. Unfortunately, it also implies increased screen time, which is not healthy for children's growth and well-being. It is challenging to decide when, where, and how long they watch screens to get the necessary exercise, fresh air, and sunlight they desperately need. Studies have shown that overdoing screen time can lead to negative outcomes such as obesity, sleep disorders, and impaired cognitive development. Therefore, parents need to set clear boundaries as to when screens are allowed and how much time should be spent watching them. In this blog, we will provide useful tips to help you set boundaries creatively, keeping everyone involved happy!
Use timers and reward systems
Set a timer and explain to your kids how long they can watch screens. Let them decide how to use the time, whether to watch a movie or play a video game. For youngsters, playing some sort of musical tune or a visual timer might be beneficial. Pair this with a reward system to keep them motivated. For instance, if they only watch screens once a day for a particular duration, they'll earn extra playtime outside, a board game with you, or even an allowance. This system will teach them how to achieve a balance between screen time and other activities.
Establish a screen-free area in your house
- Designate an area of your house as a screen-free zone, such as the dining room, bedrooms, or living room.
- Read books, converse, play board games with your kids in the designated space, or indulge in craft projects.
- Incorporate STEM-focused activities. You can set up a science experiment station, a robotics corner, or a math puzzle area that not only entertains but helps children develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork skills
Engage in outdoor activities
Summertime is the perfect opportunity for picnics, bike rides, hiking, and swimming! Encourage your kids to get some fresh air, and take them somewhere where they can engage in outdoor activities. This way, they'll have something else to look forward to instead of binge-watching their favorite TV shows. By developing a habit of consistent outdoor activity, you're also teaching them the value of fitness and overall wellness.
Make screen time a family activity
Watch a family movie or TED Talk that is conducive to your children's interests. Websites such as Common Sense Media can provide guidance for parents on the selection of movies or TV shows based on age and theme. Take the initiative to make the screen time an event by preparing popcorn, healthy snacks, or ice-cream sundaes. You can also create an interactive game night or experiment in the kitchen while teaching them basic kitchen safety while making simple recipes. This will enable family involvement while bringing everyone together and making valuable memories without spending an exorbitant amount of time staring at a screen.
Have pre-decided screen-free days
Declare certain days of the week as "no screen days," where children have to put away their devices for a day. Using the time for productive purposes such as volunteering, writing letters, spending quality time with extended family, playing a game outdoors, visiting a new park or restaurant, etc. Each activity provides new growth opportunities while cultivating strong family relationships.
Parents have a significant task of balancing their children's screen time daily. Instead, increase their physical activity, help foster critical thinking concepts, and allow them to remain actively engaged with the family, creating those valuable memories. By using timers and reward systems, setting up screen-free zones, and having pre-decided screen-free days, you can help them understand the boundaries well, monitor electronic use and prevent negative outcomes. Let screen time create a path to healthy habits for our children by making it fun and enjoyable while teaching life skills that will benefit them even without screens involved.