Summer is upon us, which means families’ schedules and activities look very different with camps, vacations, and more free time. During the school year, parents set expectations for students regarding screen time, and summer is no different. Now that summer is here, here are 7 ways your family can manage screen time this summer
1. DON’T TREAT IT LIKE THE SCHOOL YEAR.
If you want to be successful this summer with your student, go in acknowledging the difference in schedules. Even if the days are jam-packed with activities assume your student will have full days at home.
Set expectations with them whether you are home or not. Yes, this may mean more screen time than usual – that is okay! It’s summer! They have worked and done their best throughout the year, and now they have downtime- lots of it.
Many families start by adding one hour of additional screen time per day. This progression helps gauge their dependency and responsibility with it. The beginning of summer will be the heaviest of use. The first few weeks are full of junk and later balance out.
2. HAVE A SYSTEM TO MONITOR.
Depending on parents’ work hours, students may find themselves home alone for several hours of the day. Use a program that assists in time limits and web filtering to manage screen time over the summer.
They are a great benefit to the whole family. If you are interested in more infor-mation, check out our blog post where we reviewed programs (https://ministrytoparents.com/how-do-i-select-a-technology-monitoring-service/).
3. ENCOURAGE COMMUNITY.
Screen time can be a solo activity, but it doesn’t have to be. Encourage your student to use screen time to connect with others, not just binge watch on the sofa.
Part of the summer experience is navigating your student and their friendships! Summer can put time and space between friends, but parents can cultivate friendships and community for their kids if they find unique ways to bring them together.
4. INVEST IN EDUCATION.
Another creative idea is to require a set amount of educational screen time. Whether it’s reading on a Kindle or Nook or working on essays – not all time has to be “wasted.”
When you reward informative with play screen time you guide what they view first. This decision leads to a win-win for both parties.
5. SET SCREEN DAYS.
If your family travels a good bit on vacations or camps, perhaps set a schedule such as Monday/Wednesday/Friday are screen days and Tuesday/Thursday are screen-free. They can use those days to do something with someone or themselves.
This idea may not work for all families but putting away devices on purpose for an extended time will help during the school year. Setting a schedule also offers your student structure.
6. OUTDOORS = SCREEN TIME
If your student struggles to go outdoors or is turning into a couch potato, create incentives. Require that your student “earn” screen time by being active outdoors and away from screens.
One example is to spend two hours outside playing basketball to earn one hour of screen time. This option gives your student motivation to be active and fill their schedule with variety as well as time off screens.
7. HAVE A CONVERSATION ABOUT EXPECTATIONS.
As parents, we can jump in and do things for our family without fully explaining or considering all members. When we do, we invite division and resentment rather than order and structure.
When it comes to screens and the hours of time students use them, communication is essential! In my experience, the more you talk and discuss thoughts and feelings for why you do something the better they go along with it.
You may not verbally share screen time expectations with your student as of now but today would be a good time to start. Use summer and the new schedule as an excuse to have these conversations and set boundaries.
Communication is one of the most paramount tools you have as a parent!
Summertime brings a break in the school schedule granting students a considerable amount of screen time. Parents can find these moments challenging to manage. How-ever, adopt a few of the concepts mentioned above, lean into these coming months with positivity, and you will exchange a burden for an opportunity.
If you already have set boundaries with your student then tweak them as needed. For those moving into the summer with a blank slate, this occasion could be the start of a new normal and a new way for the use of screens in the home.
As always, pray about these decisions before you make them, and don’t be afraid to be transparent with your student before you introduce the guidelines.
Written by Tony Blanco
TONY BIANCO has been in Student Ministry for 10+ years with his wife Diamend with whom they have two amazing kids. He is a former Radio DJ, Technology Reviewer, GameStop Manager, Apple Store Expert, and the author of The Family Technology Plan. www.familytechnologyplan.com