Does it feel like summer is cancelled?
For many kids, the activities they might have otherwise participated in are either cancelled, significantly modified, or you’ve chosen not to have them participate. On one hand, that gives you more time with your kiddos to connect, play and be adventurous. On the other hand, the additional time with your kids might leave you feeling overwhelmed, trying to figure out how to help them stay occupied with fun, safe activities. It can be very tempting to plop them in front of a screen for a while. They are generally safe and happy in front of their screens, and most children welcome more screen time. However, it’s easy to lose track of time, resulting in way more screen time than we’d like.
Many parents are concerned with the amount of time their kids spend in front of the TV or get lost in a tablet, phone, or gaming system.
It seems that the more connected we are through online content and social media, the more disconnected (from other humans) we are actually becoming. There is a lot of debate about the impact of screen time on kids, however, experts agree that it can affect the level of brain arousal in kids. How much is too much?
“Chronically irritable children are often in a state of abnormally high arousal and may seem ‘wired and tired,” according to Psychology Today. This is especially troubling for parents who are also “wired and tired” and want to make sure their children are happy and healthy. Sometimes it’s difficult to find the right balance between just enough and too much screen entertainment.
Parents recognize the need to disconnect their children from electronics, but we don’t want to make our children feel punished. Finding a balance between screen time and human interaction can be a positive experience. Encourage children to play with other children, and model positive interactions with adults and children yourself. If your children see that you enjoy being with people, they will too.
As children get older, one concern on the minds of many parents is the overuse of video games. Video games are a great way to pass the time and can provide some benefits. According to the American Journal of Play, recent research shows “evidence of lasting positive effects of video games on basic mental processes such as perception, attention, memory and decision-making”, but these positive aspects of gaming should be balanced with human connection.
4 Ways to balance screen time, socialization, and play time:
- Model healthy electronic use yourself. Encourage your children through leading by example. If your children see you put down your phone or turn off the television to engage in conversation with those around you, they will model this behavior.
- Create screen free areas around your home. Use these areas to connect with each other. The kitchen or dining room can be an area dedicated to family meals, conversation, and other interactive activities. (Connection Zoo is a great way to connect through conversation and play!)
- Game nights are a great way to connect with your kids and have a lot of fun! Set aside a time each week to pull out a different board or card game. This is a wonderful way to make memories that will last a lifetime and encourage togetherness. Encourage your kids to invite friends over, pop some popcorn and settle in for some laughs. (Connection Zoo offers game play with animal-based cards!)
- Get outside with your kids to promote a healthy lifestyle free from technology. Go on walks, ride bikes or play in the pool. If the weather is poor, set up a balloon volleyball game in your living room. One of the easiest ways to connect with our kids is to play together. (Connection Zoo is mobile for on-the-go use!)
Screens aren’t the enemy. We all know the positive ways technology impacts our lives. Setting limits can cause an increase in eye rolling and stomping feet, but in the end, the family will benefit from turning off the TV, putting the tablet away and spending time together. Summer is not cancelled! It’s a perfect time to encourage creative family and friend play. Have fun and make memories!
Connect with us! Have a look around and discover resources for yourself and your kids that will encourage playful learning that connects.