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Unplug your kids this summer


Summer is a great time to bond with your children while they are out of school. The nice weather, outdoor activities and free time lend themselves to a fun break as a family. One thing to keep in mind is how much screen time your child is getting. There are many negative side effects of spending too much time using technology. 

Read on to learn more about negative side effects and some strategies you can implement to reduce screen time. 

Why you should restrict screen time

Psychologists have discovered several side effects of prolonged screen use in children. While there are some positives to using technology, there are negative side effects with prolonged used that can be detrimental and can continue to impact your child even after the screen has been turned off. 

Negative side-effects:  

  • Stunted attention. Your child can become accustomed to receiving an immediate response to their action based on visual stimuli, meaning that their brain, which is still developing, is learning to expect immediate gratification. 
  • Reduced communication skill development. They are not learning non-verbal communication skills in a conversation setting. This is because they can simply send an electronic message to someone they already know instead of communicating face to face.

These negative side-effects can sound scary, but technology can also have many positive effects on your children as well. For example, if you use the right apps and time limitations, time on a tablet can spark creativity. Playing computer games has been shown to develop coordination and reflexes and engaging in social media can help to develop language skills. A limited amount of screen time every day can be good for a child, but too much could hurt them in the long run. 

Ways to restrict screen time

There are many ways to restrict screen time but the most important is creating boundaries and explaining why it is important. 

Once you have made it clear what the expectations are, you can start putting in measures to ensure that everyone upholds their parts of the deal. There are many apps and services you can use to set time limits and bedtimes on any device. Your Internet Service Provider might even offer a service of that nature.

One thing that is not recommended is a reward system. Rewards give children a notion that the reward is much more valuable than it is. By saying they can have an hour screen time after cleaning their room, you are saying that one-hour computer time is worth a clean room. 

What can you replace screen time with?

Taking away one use of time without introducing another won’t end well. It’s summertime, and having fun is what both you and your children want to do. Depending on age, media-free family activities are the way to go. Here are some examples of productive things you and your kids can do to enjoy summer:

  • Learn to cook. Cooking as a family is a great way to spend time, and it’s rewarding too! Choose a recipe that everyone can help with. Younger children love to feel helpful, while older ones may enjoy the learning experience. 
  • Silent reading time. This is when everyone, including you, finds a book and goes to their own quiet place to read. It’s a great way to de-stress. It strengthens reading skills of the younger children, while giving the older ones some time alone.
  • Outdoor sports. Pick a ball, set teams and have fun. Or go for a bike ride or walk. There are a lot of different outdoor activities to get out of the house and be active. 

In absence of screen time, children may feel like they have nothing to do – let’s help them see the benefits and fun of alternative choices. 

Long stretches of time interacting with only electronic devices can be dangerous for children, and it can be a disadvantage to their development. Depending on your specific child, it may be important to restrict their media intake and replace it with something more productive. These moments you create with them will turn into memories that they will cherish throughout the coming school year and for the rest of their lives. 

 

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