Technology has become so commonplace in our everyday lives that it can be difficult to remember how important it is to unplug. Between smartphones, video games, TVs, tablets, and laptops, it’s just so easy for kids to spend too much time in front of screens.
The rule in our house is no screens during the week, but when school lets out for summer it’s easy for the rules to slide a bit (or a lot). Fortunately, the summer months also offer the perfect weather and opportunity to get the kids out from behind their screens and outside to play. If you’re looking to limit screen time this summer, here are 10 smart tips you can institute to encourage your kids to put down the tech and get outside instead.
1. Set a Good Example
If you want your children to unplug and get outside, it’s important that you do the same. Your children will emulate your behaviour far more than they’ll listen to what you tell them. Actions speak louder than words so put down the technology and get outside yourself. Go have fun together!
2. Make Outside Time Family Time
Whether you take the family on a hike or a bike ride, or simply move your family game night to the backyard, there are lots of ways to take your family time outside. Make it a summer ritual to take advantage of the great outdoors as often as possible, especially while attempting to break the technology habit.
3. Create an Outdoor Bucket List
A great way to get the kids off their screens and outside this summer is to create a bucket list. Sit down with your kids and create an list of outdoor activities and events they want to experience before they go back to school. This will give them plenty of things to do this summer and motivate them to get outside and get active so they can check these items off their lists.
4. Set a Schedule
It’s unlikely that you will entirely eliminate technology time from your summer schedule, but you can certainly set some ground rules to limit it. Create a schedule for your children to abide by with set times they are permitted to use their screens. Post it somewhere central so you and the kids can refer to it as needed.
5. Set Conditions for Tech Time
Aside from creating a schedule, you can also set tasks or chores for your children to complete before allowing screen time. For example, you can ask them to clean their rooms, read for 30 minutes, or spend at least an hour outside playing outside before turning on their game console. Setting these boundaries will help to limit the time they spend inside playing on their technology.
6. Enroll Them in Sports
Sign your kids up for outdoor sports. Not only will this get them outside, but it’ll give them the chance to get active, learn teamwork, make new friends, and learn new skills.
7. Sign Them Up for Summer Camp
Summer camps can provide your kids with a fantastic opportunity to ditch the tech, get outdoors, and meet new people. While some camps can be pricey, many school districts and community centres provide more budget-friendly or free summer camp experiences for your children as well. Research summer camps in your area and get your kids spending time outside, meeting new friends, and creating new memories.
8. Encourage Them to get Messy
Despite the extra baths and laundry, it’s important to let your kids get messy. If it’s raining, encourage them to go dance in the rain and splash in the puddles. When the weather is nice, send them out to make mud pies, roll in the grass, or climb a tree. Giving your children the freedom to get dirty will encourage them to get outdoors more often.
9. Show Them They Can Make Money
If your children are a bit older, a great way to encourage them to get outside is to show them there’s some extra money to be made. Have them set up a lemonade stand, mow lawns, or weed gardens. Teaching your children that getting outdoors can help them make some extra money is a fantastic motivator.
10. Stick with It
Remember at the end of the day, you are the parent and you set the rules. Yes, it might be tough at first. Your children may be resistant to sudden limitations on their use of technology, but it’s important to remain consistent. They will eventually accept the new routine and get used to their summer technology schedule.
Try these tips to help change the way your kids view tech-free time. Just remember to be consistent and stick with it. It might be difficult in the beginning, but your kids will come around when they realize how much fun can be had in the great outdoors this summer!