Summer is finally here, and that means it’s time for outdoor fun. Adults in Minnesota know and cherish the short time we can enjoy our favorite summer activities, but too often, young kids still spend a lot of time inside, focused on the TV or some sort of gaming device.
Whether you want to instill a passion for the outdoors, introduce new activities or simply provide an opportunity to burn off energy, it all starts with getting kids to put down their numerous digital screens and head outside.
Here are a few simple tips to ensure your kids spend more time in the sun this summer.
Track & Limit Daily Time
The first step to getting a better grip on technology is measuring how much time they’re currently spending on it and determining what you believe are healthy limits. For kids, under five years old, the American Academy of Pediatrics has strong recommendations of limiting screen time, but after that, it becomes much more about what type of priority your family wants to place on technology compared to other hobbies.
If your kids are attending day care, be aware how much screen time they’re getting there and factor that in as well.
Set Outdoor Hours
Building healthy routines are a great way to reduce or limit screen time. Creating a daily routine of spending the first few hours after you get home from work playing in the yard or setting specific times for outdoor activities on weekends can develop a “new normal” for your family’s lifestyle during the summer.
Make Them Earn It
Whether it’s the TV, a phone or some sort of gaming device, most kids utilize technology for the sake of entertainment. Even the games and devices with an educational focus are designed to capture kids’ interest and attention just like any other toy.
Teaching them they must complete certain tasks or chores before they can enjoy screen time can help kids establish priorities and develop responsibility.
Tech Free Zones
Two of the most popular recommendations when it comes to reducing the negatives effects of technology are keeping screens out of bedrooms, where they can affect sleep habits, and preventing them from affecting family interactions, like at the dinner table. The same concept of tech free zones can be expanded to other areas of your home and life, such as the family cabin or a friend/relative’s house.
Believe it or not, there are some families who don’t allow their kids to use technology at home at all. This may seem strict, but realistically, the prevalence of technology use within schools today ensures kids will have the necessary basics skills for everyday life so using them at home is more of a privilege or luxury than an actual need.
Set a Good Example
The old adage ‘do as I say, not as I do’ doesn’t really work when it comes to screen time. Cutting down on technology time requires a total family commitment so be prepared to pull back on your phone and social media usage as well.
Plan, Execute, Review
The bottom line is if you want your kids to get more out of the summer it starts with putting a plan in place and sticking to it. Regardless of what that plan is, research indicates setting those guides in place and ensuring you have an active role in how much technology your kids are consuming will have a positive impact on their physical and cognitive development.
And you’ll have more time to enjoy the summer… together!