Summer Screen Time Rules

Summer Screen Time Rules:

Summer break is here once again, and you know what that means? Managing the dreaded Summer Screen Time Rules. With the allure of video games, social media, and streaming services, it can seem like our kids would rather stay glued to their screens than step outside. Because they would in fact, rather stay glued to their screens than step outside!

But can we blame them?

When you get time off how do you prefer to spend it? Riding your bike around the neighborhood, or catching up on Grey’s Anatomy? We thought so. The thing is no one has more time on their hands than a kid on summer break. 

During the school year, screen time is naturally limited due to homework and extracurricular activities, but summer opens up a vast expanse of free time. Without a summer screen time plan it’s easy for that time to be swallowed up by screens.

Here’s how and why to set summer screen time rules to ensure your kiddos aren’t undoing all that hard work they put into their development during the last 9 months! 

But first, let’s get real….

It is 2024. A lot of our lives take place on the other side of a screen. We talk to our friends on screens, we learn from screens, we seek community through screens, and of course, most entertainment today is screen-based. This is just a fact! 

We also need to recognize that screens can be addictive. They offer instant gratification and mini dopamine hits every time we interact with them. This can be a lot for a young child to recognize and mitigate on their own. So even if you’ve never considered screen time limits in the past, this summer might be a great time to start!

Step 1: Set the Expectations

Start by discussing screen time rules with your kids. Explain why it’s important to balance screen time with other activities. Make them part of the decision-making process to encourage cooperation.

Step 2: Create a Daily Schedule

A structured day can help prevent excessive screen time and help them know what to expect. Include a mix of activities such as outdoor play, reading, chores, and screen time for littles and more vague openings for bigger kids. 

An example of a littles’ schedule:

  • Morning: Outdoor play or a physical activity
  • Midday: Screen time (1-2 hours)
  • Afternoon: Creative or educational activities
  • Evening: Family time or quiet reading

Here is an example of a bigger kid:

  • Morning: Free time – (TV & Music Allowed) 
  • Midday: Chores and/or Exercise (Music Allowed) 
  • Afternoon: Free-Range Screen Time until Dinner 
  • Evening: Family time and/or Free time (TV Allowed)

Step 3: Encourage Alternate Activities

Setting summer screen time rules is the easy part. Combatting their boredom without the screens is where it gets more …challenging. They will need something else to occupy their time. 

  • If your kid is very into Legos, this may be the time to grab a new 500-piece set. 
  • Want them to spend more time outside? Sounds like a good time to invest in a pair of rollerblades or a new bike for them to ride around with their friends. 
  • Have a little artist? Restock the art bins with new craft supplies. 
  • Have a social butterfly? Enroll her/him in our final GHCS Summer Day Camp

Again, the point is to help them realize how much fun the world outside of screens can be in a time where 90% of it is on screen. Growing up we might have naturally thought to go outside and catch a bunch of lightning bugs in a jar. However, those ideas have been replaced with TikTok dances and Marvel memes so we just might have to help them out a bit.

Step 5: Stay Flexible

This brings us to our final tip: stay flexible. It is the summer, and we are dealing with kids after all. There will be days when given the weather and/or a virus going around and/or any other life circumstance it absolutely is okay to let them veg out on the sofa and watch four consecutive hours of Paw Patrol. 

Remember, like with anything we do as parents, our goal is not to be perfect but to do the best we can. Road trips will change things. Sitting in the car shop for hours will change things. Be flexible for those moments, and don’t let it be an excuse to throw out the entire Summer Screen Time Limits Rule Book.

Balancing screen time during summer break can be challenging, but with clear rules and a mix of engaging activities you can help your kids enjoy a fulfilling and healthy summer. Remember – the goal is not to eliminate screens but to integrate them into a well-rounded routine that includes physical, social, and creative activities.

If you find it challenging to manage screen time or notice negative impacts on your child’s behavior and mood, consider seeking professional guidance. Greater Houston Counseling Services is here to support you with strategies tailored to your family’s needs.

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