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Here we go again. Summer break is coming. Moms are getting worried. Very, very worried.
We want our kids to have a healthy balance between electronics and other activities. We’d love to have some easy house rules that are easy to enforce and easy to follow.
Moms don’t want to nag. We don’t want to be the time keeper.
We really don’t want to deal with a big checklist of Things For Kids To Do Before They Can Do Electronics.
How can we limit electronics use during the summer?
Keep kids off electronics over the summer
Engrossed in video games
The real thing is that time goes really quickly when they are playing those video games. Us Moms are getting our stuff done without interruption. The kids are happy; they aren’t fighting, getting hurt, or upending all the toy boxes.
So what’s the right mix? How can we not nag about it everyday and also not have to repeat ourselves all the time?
I don’t want to set a mile-long list for my kids to achieve before they “earn” their electronics time.
I just want there to be a balance and good habits in place.
It’s sort of like with junk food and snacks. My kids know their limits and boundaries because of rules we have in place.
Sure, sometimes there are special occasions or circumstances, but usually, we go on without issue.
Best ways to keep kids off electronics
Consistency is key. The best things that have worked in our house with electronics are these:
1.) They can’t get on their devices until a certain time
In our house, this is after 10am. Enforcing this has made a big impact in our home.
This encourages our kids to sleep in or to at least try to go back to sleep “because there’s nothing to do anyway.”
This will also hopefully get them involved in some of the things I would usually do for them, including getting their breakfast. Now, without the lure of electronics, we are spending that time together.
Basically, when they wake up, they need to figure out what to do. They can’t default to using electronics. The hope is they become interested in other things, delaying it even more.
If nothing else, they have started their day being creative in some way.
Also, by making them wait until 10am before getting online, I will have accomplished some of my routine obligations so when my kids do sit down to play video games, I can use that time in a more purposeful way for myself.
(In the past, they would wake up really early and use their video game time. I’d still be sleeping. Because I needed to get things done, I would be apt to let them play longer into the day.)
Another bonus with this method is they have already done something productive in the day which will hopefully set them up for more activity throughout the day. “A body in motion….”
2.) Play in the living room
One of the best things to do is to not have a TV or any video game console (xBox, PlayStation, WiiU, etc.) in the child’s bedroom.
When they have to play in the living room or other common area, you will be much more aware of what’s happening and how long they have been online.
Of course, no one wants to deal with seeing and hearing these video games. But we must — soon enough they will be off and on their own. As parents, it’s still our responsibility now.
Have your child wear gaming headphones so you won’t have to hear the games all the time. It’s essential kids play electronics in the open areas of your home.
3.) Set a certain hours
Another easy-to-enforce way to monitor electronics use is to give certain hours they can play. As an example, this can be from 1pm – 4pm.
What’s great about this is they can use their electronics freely during this time without nagging from you.
Whichever hours and time range you choose, you will want to decide in advance if they can “finish their round” or it ends exactly when time is up.
We set the kitchen timer for 3:45pm so they have a 15 minute warning. My kids also bring their mini alarm clocks in the living room so they can better keep track of their time.
4.) Set up a time limit from within the device
On most devices, you can limit the number of minutes or hours in a day kids can use it.
This is great because you can give them two hours — or however long — and once they use it, that’s it.
As a busy mom, you don’t have to monitor it with your own stopwatch or kitchen timer. It’s for the kids to manage on their own. And once their time is up, it’s up.
They can decide how they want to use their electronics time. They can divide it up over the day or use it all in one sitting, or however they choose to.
We instituted this on their iPads, and it’s made all the difference in our household.
Be sure you set this up from within the devices themselves. You don’t want to add to things you need to do as a mom by managing the time yourself.
It’s really easy to set up which enables you to change the amount of time whenever you want. Depending on your family schedule, you may give them a set amount of electronics time during the weekday and more or less on weekends.
By far, we’ve found this to be the best way to keep kids from being on electronics all day in the summer.
5.) Get them to play
The older kids get, the less they play with toys. But there are some activities even preteens and teens will enjoy. You just need to give them a little nudge.
During the school year, there’s not as much time for kids to do crafts, building, puzzles and play in general. But in the summer, they have lots more time, especially for activities that take longer.
Here are some ideas to get kids to play instead of doing electronics. (My tween sons enjoy doing all of these things.) Depending on your child’s age, all of these can be done indoors with little-to-no supervision.
- Jigsaw puzzles
- Rubik’s Cube
- Larger Lego set
- Little Bits
- Snap Circuits
- Learn to spin a basketball on your finger
- Paracord bracelet making
This summer, we are incorporating some other creative ideas. In the beginning, I’m sure they will object, but believe once they get into it, they will love each of these.
We are going to have them each make their own LEGO creation. It will have to have a name, a cover design, marketing strategy (what the target market is, age, pricing, etc.) and directions. Everyone in our family will take turns building it.
We are going to have them make up a board game, together or separately. They will also think of the age range, have to make the game board, write out directions, etc. We might even have them do a commercial for it.
After those are complete, we will have them research a place they’d like to visit and tell us about it.
6.) Make them get something done first
I’m not a big fan of Do This So You Can Earn This.
However, it works well in some families. But this is something you have to be able to be strict with, and I’m just not that organized.
If you come up with a manageable list, go for it.
You just don’t want it to become so difficult that it’s near-impossible to complete. You also don’t really want to tie these chores or goals to things you want them to do anyway.
However, if you have a child who doesn’t like to read, maybe you match minute-to-minute, reading-to-video-game-playing.
Something that works well is setting the expectation that your child has to Do This (whatever your list is) today in order to play video games tomorrow.
So, in the next example of doing a summer workbook, you can set the expectation that your child finishes his/her two workbook pages today to earn the gaming time the next day.
In this way, whether it’s doing reading or playing outside or vacuuming or whatever is on the list, your child won’t rush through the task that morning. He or she will have all day to complete the task to earn the video game privilege for the next day.
This will help teach prioritizing and setting goals.
Something that works well is to have them do a certain combination of reading and summer workbook pages, and then they earn an hour or two of video games.
We love the summer bridge workbooks. It’s a workbook which bridges the grade they just completed with the grade they will enter.
What’s great about these workbooks is there are 3-4 different activities each day.
There are different combinations each day, including geography, social studies, math, science, reading comprehension, and language arts.
Other workbooks tend to focus on just one subject.
Kids can usually complete each day in 10 – 20 minutes so it keeps children engaged in learning while reviewing concepts they covered.
(In some cases, these workbooks have introduced concepts for the first time.) We love these workbooks!
7.) Make them ask before getting online
Another option is to make them ask before getting online. This is a good way to keep them off electronics because they can’t just default to turning on the iPad.
This is more flexible because you can consider the weather — Can they play outside instead? You can consider other activities they might do — Have they played a game or done a craft lately? Have they finished their chores?
Maybe you all sit down to read for a half hour, and then he goes online.
It’s just more a moment-by-moment way to handle it. It offers more flexibility and is a great way to keep kids off electronics.
Keeping kids off video games during the summer
Left to their own devices, (pun intended) my kids would be on it all day, every day. And even when one son is playing Fortnite, my other son would happily watch him play it. Or he would be playing on the iPad, probably watching Youtube videos.
I want my kids to play. To be industrious. I want them to be bored and to figure it out. I want them to create and construct. To learn. I want them to be kids.”
But it’s difficult nowadays.
It’s so easy and so tempting to just let them have 10 more minutes or to finish their round. Without monitoring and constant nagging from Mom, that means another half hour or longer.
Playing Fortnite and other games with friends
Depending on your child’s age and grade, Fortnite might be daily conversation in your house.
My kids make their plans in school to play with their friends after school — almost like play dates — which is great. They are interacting with friends! What’s not to like?
This is all well and good during the school year when everyone is busy with homework and schedules.
During the summer, it’s a different story. They would be on it all day if they could.
Figuring out ways to minimize electronics time over the summer is essential.
Keep kids off electronics over the summer
Think back to your own childhood. There wasn’t constant stimulation all the time. Our parents were trying to keep us off electronics. People weren’t multi-tasking walking and using smart phones, that’s for sure.
Times were slower. We learned how to just Be. We learned how to be BORED.
Bored is good!
If I see my kids have played and invented and aren’t just resorting to the tried-and-true electronics, I’m much more apt to say, “Yes! You can go online.”
Other times, I will say, “No, go figure something out.”
We will be working hard this summer to break the routine of just vegging out playing electronics out of habit. However, my goal always is to be sure this isn’t more work for mom.
Basically, there are certain things I want my kids to do each day:
- Pick up their rooms and shared bathroom (1x/week)
- Get the mail (Alternate days)
- Feed dog (Alternate days)
- Play with something
- Play outside
- Read for 20+ minutes
- Do two pages in their summer slide workbooks
Moms want to start the summer strong with whatever method(s) we choose for keeping kids off electronics over the summer. However, we don’t want to start strong and then get lack as the weeks go on.
It’s easy for parents to spend too much time online too. Read for tips to help stay off electronics.
What are your tips for keeping kids off electronics? Please leave them in the Comments.