A Parent’s Guide to a Screen-Free Summer

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School’s out, and children are looking forward to their summer vacations. Depending on how eager they are, summertime can be fruitful or fleeting. For some kids, summer may be the only time they can pick up a new hobby, spend time traveling, or catch up on the latest video games. Because of social media, it’s very easy for young kids and teenagers to connect with their friends. While it’s good to maintain friendships, it can also be harmful if kids spend all their precious free time clicking on their smartphones.

How can parents help their kids to achieve a screen-free summer? Although virtually impossible, limiting screen time is critical if we want to develop healthy relationships and interpersonal social skills among kids of the same age.

Here are three tips on how to get started.

1.  Plan a variety of outdoor activities

When kids are bored, tantrums begin, and they can spiral out of control. Whether it’s summer camp, sports training, or music practice, it’s essential to prioritize planning for summer activities to get the kids outdoors. If budget is an issue, then it’s all the more crucial to research ahead for activities within budget so that kids can manage their expectations.

For parents with young kids, trying something new like backyard camping, obstacle courses, or nature-themed scavenger hunts can encourage them to be curious about their surroundings. Cultivating a love for the outdoors starts during childhood, including their appreciation for all living things. Planning outdoor activities that raise awareness of the environment is also an excellent first step in teaching them how to care for the planet.

2.  Stimulate learning through hands-on experiments

If it’s too hot to go outdoors, turning the kitchen and garage into laboratories are a perfect way to keep kids engaged. Teaching them how to make ice cream, fruit popsicles, or shaved ice desserts can hopefully excite them into learning more about kitchen safety and how to become more responsible in handling food.

For parents with teenagers, getting their hands dirty to build their furniture or repair an old machine can help them discover if they have a passion for it. While not all kids will have the patience, there are still many ways to use tools in the garage for other hands-on experiments. Some examples are frying an egg on top of the car or making a water rocket launcher to quench the summer heat.

3.  Observe kindness and compassion

Summer doesn’t need to be all fun and games – it can be motivating and life-changing. Practicing compassion for neighbors, animals, and others who may not have the same summer experience is important in making every summer unforgettable. Kids may not remember who won the scavenger hunt during summer camp, but they will remember the new friendships and people they met.

Regardless of the summer activity, kids can develop their interpersonal skills not by chatting with someone over the internet or playing video games but by being physically present and showing up for others. Joining workshops, making bird feeders, or packing up food and water for the homeless are excellent ways to learn something new outside of school.

A great summer

Summertime is notoriously known as the season to enjoy youth and probably do things they have never done before. Spending time on phones and computers can be entertaining, but it can also be a source of boredom if parents do not intervene. The challenge is in seeing whether kids can step out of their comfort zone and learn to be of service to others and themselves, which makes for an ultimately great summer.

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