As we get closer to the warmer months, “summer screen schedule” printables can be seen splashed all over social media. You know the ones—they list everything a tween has to do before they get access to Wi-Fi during summer when school routines go out the window.
Screen schedules are a great idea with good intentions to help keep your tween off their device. In theory. But they don’t always work in practice. Luckily, there are other ways to manage screen time in the summer.
The goal is teaching your tween about balance and self-regulation. Below are some ideas to set a realistic summer screen time plan for your family.
Have a good discussion
First, you’ll want to talk to your tween about summer screen time expectations. Discuss the reasons behind why balance is important to you and ask your tween why it matters to them. Then come to an agreement on the responsibilities that need to get done around the house on a daily and weekly basis. Set some standards and repercussions.
Changing the Wi-Fi password every morning before they check off everything on their list can be effective; however, the outcome will be much better if your tween understands why they can’t be on their technology for hours on end, despite a relaxed summer schedule.
Organize summer activities (and include some screen time in the mix)
During your discussion, engage your tween to offer ideas around what they’d like to do during the summer. How do they envision this “time off” from school? Plan family day trips, biking and hiking fun, backyard camping sleepovers, and other activities.
Ask them to offer ideas around outdoor activities, too. Support the idea of engaging friends. Tweens are all about their social life.
Encourage them to create a “summer bucket list” of their own. Make sure to plug in some dates on the calendar around these activities, and commit to them. You can add a few days during vacation that are slotted as “no rules” around screen time. A good idea is to designate “rain days” where screen time is balanced with indoor active time.
There’s an app for outdoor fun
Add some technology to fun, which will encourage your tween to head outside. There are a plethora of apps on both the App Store and Google Play to sift through.
Stargazing: Organize a night walk in search of meteor showers and constellations! Depending on your kiddo’s age and curfew, you can make it a family affair or they can go with friends. For the best experience, choose a clear night, and find an open space to stare up at the sky. Some stargazing apps to consider include Skyview Free, NASA’s official app, and SkySafari.
Scavenger hunts: There’s a wide range of outdoor scavenger hunt apps that can keep your tweens busy during a cooler summer day with their friends. Ones to consider downloading are Geocaching and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. There are also educational-focused apps like Agents of Discovery, Project Noah, and Smart Bird ID.
Make a difference: Charity Miles is an app worth mentioning to your kids, as it enables users to earn money for a non-profit of their choice when they walk, bike, or run. They can support their favourite charity and stay active outdoors.
Tools that can help
There are tools within devices to help parents manage screen time. From limiting specific app use on phones to parental controls on laptops and video games, teaching teens and tweens about regulating technology time can be done by simply clicking some buttons.
Screen time can get out of hand in the summer, thanks to the lax routine. This can create a “free for all” environment. The best way to stop this from happening is to stay consistent with screen time rules all year round.
This can be challenging. Start by using a positive approach when setting year-round screen time rules. Talk with your tween about these guidelines, and why balance is important. Avoid using devices as reward or punishment; however, ensure that consequences are clearly communicated from the onset. At the end of the day, you want your child to develop self-monitoring/self-regulation skills when it comes to screen time. The last thing you want to do is continually nag them to turn off their phone, or use guilt for them to comply.
Some rules to begin with include “shutting off” devices one hour before bedtime, no technology at the dinner table, and time restrictions around specific apps or video games. Keeping these standard screen time rules will also ease the transition once “back to school” rolls around.