“Can I have the iPad?” The dreaded screen time question. My three children constantly ask me this question. Sometimes, it’s a moment of relief for this tired mom. Other times, it’s a moment of guilt over whether I am giving my kids too much screen time.
As summer approaches and boredom runs rampant, I decided to come up with a game plan for navigating screen time during the summer months. Monitoring screen time looks different for every family. Having a game plan ahead of time helps ensure success. We all needs practical ways to monitor screen time without driving ourselves crazy!
Put screens away completely.
While it may remain far-fetched to plan to put away screens for the entire summer, there are chunks of time when screens can easily be put away. For example:
- Weekdays or Weekends
- Vacation (The travel doesn’t have to count!)
- Summer Camp
- Friend Hangouts
Set time limits.
Most devices have a setting that allows you to set time limits. When the allotted time is up, a screen pops up saying that their time has ended. It can only be deactivated by a parent and a password. Score!
Each device will be different, but since most of us deal with iPads or iPhones, here is a step-by-step guide on how to set this up in general settings.
You can also set timers the old fashion way with alarms or timers. However, I find that setting up time limits on devices saves us brain power (and makes the device the “bad guy” — bonus!). You and I know the many distractions that can happen between handing the tablet to our child and setting that timer.
Establish a particular time of day for screen time.
This one works well for my family. With three kids, setting time limits on devices can become cumbersome and inconvenient at times. It’s easier for me to establish a set time of the day. Whether first thing in the morning, post-lunch, post-nap, or right before bedtime, keeping it the same time each day allows for a no-stress, set expectations screen time experience for you and your child.
Your child may fight the routine at first, but after a few days, they’ll know when screen time is and adapt to the schedule. For our family, this one is great combined with no weekends!
Limit screen time to special occasions or appointments.
Summer often brings dental appointments and well check-ups. Taking tablets along provides entertainment for our kids while waiting for appointments. It’s a nice treat and makes the trips a little more manageable for mom.
Special occasions like family reunions or dinner with out-of-town guests happen in the summer too. Depending on the adult to kid ratio, this may be a chance to allow your kid(s) some extra screen time so that you can actually chat and catch up with friends and family.
Get your kids involved in the apps that get them off the screen.
I love it when my kids find apps or videos that are a combination of screen and play. It’s a win-win, and many times I can join in on the fun too.
- YouTube Kids has a lot of opportunities for this. Art for Kids Hub and Cosmic Kids Yoga are two of my family’s favorites.
- NFL Play 60 was created by the American Heart Association and gets kids active and moving. Kids can build a roster, play catch, train, and prepare for competition in this interactive app.
- Bible for Kids is a fun storytelling app that tells Bible stories along with an activity for each story.
There’s an app for that.
Many apps have been created to help families manage and control screen time. If you want to forego the device settings or you want more flexibility with settings, check out these apps:
My family will likely use a combination of this list as my family’s size and schedule needs a flexible approach to screen time.