As a mom of two in the midst of summer vacation (literally, as I’m typing this, my 8-year-old asked for my iPad) I was stoked to receive this blog post from South Riding Pediatrics. I get it. Our kids are used to constant stimulation and routine at school and then they get home for the summer and suddenly they need to entertain themselves…and what easier way to do that than through a screen? Below is a list of fun tips to beat the screen addiction this summer.
Five tips to beat the need for screens
Ninety-seven percent of children between the ages of 12-17 play video games. If you’re a parent who has tried to limit screen time or peel your kids away from their devices, you know the resulting sedentary behavior has become the new norm for summer schedules. The addiction to screen time is not limited to TV and video games. Most children over age 10 have some type of mobile device and spend large amounts of time on games and social media applications. Here are five tips to combat these statistics when your children would rather spend time on digital devices than participating in healthier activities.
Create a summer schedule.
This may seem obvious, but kids who do not have planned activities spend more time indoors. Create a schedule and set goals for physical activity. Intersperse creative time and structured activities (camps, swim team, reading programs, etc.) with the free time that allows your children to have that game time they crave in smaller doses.
Create real-life versions of games.
Take elements of their favorite games, movies, and apps and bring them to life. Combine themes with creative additions that combine physical activity with analytical thinking. Take them Pokémon hunting or geocaching. Create scavenger hunts that test their skills while they run, walk, and jump. Host age-appropriate game ‘tournaments’ at your house or at a community park. Get them to play in “real life” before letting them play online.
Make a list of places your kids would like to visit within a two-hour drive of your home and hit the road. Visit museums, parks, monuments, and more. Create a guess for each day – how many steps to the center of the Lincoln Memorial? Who can hold a plank the longest after lunch? Serious or silly, make up a couple of challenges to add physical fun to the day.
Be an athlete.
Encourage them to try a new sport, join a team, take lessons, or compete in a recreational league. It doesn’t matter what they choose – but help them find a sport that they really enjoy. If you have device-oriented kids, require them to trade some physical activity (Wii sports or Just Dance) for more sedentary games and activities.
Take them with you.
For teens 14+, your children can go with you to your yoga class, your spin class, or your gym to hit the treadmill. If they need more convincing, allow them to listen to or watch their devices while they work out. Once you have a plan and set some goals, incorporate a Fitbit or other digital device to measure progress and keep the fun going.
How do you beat the need for screens in the summer? Please share your tips in the comments!