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Here we go again. Summer break. Moms are getting worried. Very, very worried.
We want 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 don’t want to start the summer strong and then slack off with monitoring electronics.
Keep kids off electronics over the summer
Like everywhere, Fortnite is a daily conversation in our house. My kids make their plans in school to play with their friends after school, almost like play dates.
My sons have it worked out who gets to play when because only one can play at a time. This is all well and good during the school year when we are busy practically every day. They can’t be on it too long (an hour or so, max).
But summer? That’s another story.
How can we limit electronics use?
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.
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.
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 the biggest 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 do for them, including getting their breakfast. They can help with that.
Also, by turning on their electronics later in the day, they will begin their day doing something other than electronics.
They will have to figure out something to do. The hope is they become interested in other things so they will delay even getting on electronics.
If nothing else, they have started their day by being creative in some way.
Also, by minimizing electronics in this way, I will have accomplished some of my routine obligations so when they do sit down to play video games, I can use that time in a more purposeful way for myself.
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.
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.
In our house, I give 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.) 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
5.) 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 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!
6.) 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.
7.) Set a time limit.
This can be a difficult one if you aren’t organized. Is two hours long enough? Is it too much? When we’ve set times in the past, it’s been a two hour time limit.
They can play four times for a half hour each, use it all in one sitting, or whatever combination they choose.
In this way, the kids can control how they want to use their time during the day. The idea is once it’s gone, they have to turn off the electronics.
But while this one is great in theory, it’s still difficult because the onus is often on the parent to watch the clock. We have to trust our kids are being dutiful with the timer or stopwatch.
Also, inevitably, when their two hours is up, they will be in the middle of a round.
“Can I just finish this round?” is what you will hear.
Then you have to decide what to do. Do you borrow against tomorrow’s time? Do you factor this in they get an extra five minutes?
Still, if you can effectively manage this, it’s the best way to keep kids from being on electronics all day.
Keep kids off electronics
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.
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
It’s easy for parents to spend too much time online too. Read for tips.
What are your tips for keeping kids off electronics? Please leave them in the Comments.