5 Ways to Manage Screen Time this Summer

With more time to use their devices and less time being supervised, kids will likely be taking advantage of the long days this summer to hone in on their tech skills. While I’m a supporter of technology and content creation, too much screen time can lead to hyper-emotional, non-compliant kids. An over-dose on devices can also lead to a negative impact on social development and communication skills. Here are some ways to control the screen time in your house before it takes over:

1. Set a timer. It’s easy to get busy with other parenting-type duties and is tempting to let the kids play on their devices while you get your own work completed. A good way to keep screen time in check is to set a timer. Kids can also see the time counting down and can expect when to hand over the iPad.


2. Transition into a fun activity. Once that timer has beeped, having another activity lined up can ease the transition away from tech time. A trip to the park, your child’s favorite craft or even a snack can make the switch a little smoother.


3. Save the tech for the road trip. Summer brings long car rides and plane trips. Save that movie your child really wants to see for when they are strapped in their seat and can’t move around much anyway.


4. Take it outside. There are lots of great apps to get your kids into nature. Geocaching, photography, and insect finding can inspire them to create amazing content or become neighborhood explorers. Plus, it will likely inspire them to get into the great outdoors on their own next time without the devices.


5. Sleep. Shut down those screens at least one hour before bedtime. The blue light emitted from screens inhibits our body’s production of melatonin which we need for restful, high quality sleep. And we can all benefit from a good night of zzzzz’s.

“Kids don’t remember their best day of television” - a wise parent

 

You must Become a Digital Citizen Before you can Raise One

Digital citizenship is a phrase that parents today, did not relate to growing up. But now, our kids are immersed in the digital world and we are scrambling to keep up with them. Along with traditional bullying, stealing and voyeurism we now have to educate ourselves on cyberbullying, identity theft, trolls and internet luring. All while being good digital citizens ourselves and raising them.

What even is a digital citizen? 

The simplified answer is someone who uses the internet appropriately and responsibly. So digital citizenship refers to navigating the digital world responsibly and ethically. That sounds easy enough. But how do we raise good digital citizens when our kids are navigating technology at warp speeds compared to their parents. How do we encourage digital citizenship when our kids already “know everything about everything” and they are the ones setting up our new phone and downloading apps for us?

Dr. Mike Ribble, author of “Raising a Digital Child” states that digital citizenship is not meant to be a set of rules, but rather a framework for parents and educators regarding the issues surrounding technology and how children are using that technology. Parents must shift their mindset and adapt their rules at home to keep up with the rapid advancement of technology. It is no longer an option for us to woefully turn a blind eye to our kids’ online activities. Taking a child’s phone away or cutting them off from accessing the internet are not viable solutions to keeping them safe. Teaching them how to use technology appropriately and responsibly is what will ensure they thrive in our digital world. And that starts with us. 

So, how are we able to raise good digital citizens when our kids are out-Snapping and YouTubing us behind? We are able because our kids still depend on us for guidance and mentorship online and offline. By establishing rules at home regarding tech use and by abiding by these rules ourselves, we are mentoring digital citizens. 

Here are a few simple things parents can do now to model good digital citizenship:

  • Ask your kids for permission before you post a photo of them online. Not only are you showing them the respect you want to see them reciprocate to their friends and family, you are giving them more control over their own digital footprint.
  • Be curious about what your kids are doing online. Ask them to teach you about Snapchat or Musical.ly. Not only will you get a glimpse into their digital life but they will feel good teaching you a thing or two.
  • Create some device-free time. During meal time, family movie night or even while out for a dog walk.
  • Resist the urge to use your phone while driving. You have little eyes in the back seat who are watching and learning. If it’s acceptable for mom or dad to to text and drive, then it’s acceptable for them too. It’s just not worth it.

“If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow”   - John Dewey

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But Mom, I still want to be a Princess

Just to give you some background about myself…no, I’m not a princess.

I come from a family who spent their weekends and summers at the cabin. When all my friends were going to Disneyland and Hawaii, I was in the back of the old Dodge truck headed to Lac La Biche. I was driving a dirt bike by the time I was 8 years old and after a fishing trip, I eagerly helped my Dad clean the fish because I wanted to see if there were any babies inside (insert gross face here). Fast forward to my high school days where math and science were my best subjects, my fashion consisted of a Club Monaco sweatshirt with tight Levi jeans or baggy sweatpants with a Beaver Canoe T-shirt. My hair was in a ponytail 95% of the time because you can’t play volleyball any other way and I didn’t have the faintest clue how to apply makeup (I still don’t even own a lipstick). I graduated University with a science degree and at my ceremony it was probably the first time in 20 years I actually put on a dress.

Today, I strongly support girls in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) and believe the #StrongIsTheNewPretty campaign should be every girl’s slogan. It is still a rare moment you will catch me wearing a dress and every morning I tell myself to sign up for that “learn to apply makeup” class. Now, I also have a 6 year old daughter. A mini-me. A daughter who is often at the receiving end of the comment “you look just like your mom”. Despite our physical resemblance, she is very much her own person.

My daughter wears tutus on her “casual” days. She is a strong believer that one can never wear too many accessories at the same time. An outfit is not an actual outfit if there is no matching headband and something sparkly to go with it. She goes skiing with a skirt under her snow pants and a tiara under her toque. This girl goes camping with a Fairy costume and a Princess dress crammed into her bag. When we are shopping together she wants nothing to do with the cute little yoga pants and matching tank I have picked out and heads straight to the puffiest, glitter dress she can find. 

My daughter puts up with me telling her she should be a veterinarian or a marine biologist. She politely says “no thank-you” when I ask her if she wants to try hockey or skateboarding. She desperately wants to take ballet and singing lessons and when I ask her what she wants to be when she grows up… her answer… Mom, I want to be a princess.

Not wearing a dress and makeup did not prevent me from feeling pretty and confident.

Why would a tiara and tutu stop her from feeling strong and independent? 

Darn this parenting thing is hard…. I guess the point isn’t to raise mini-me’s but to raise confident, inspired, open-minded little people. No matter how different their passions are from ours. 

Looks like ballet is coming my way.

And… when it comes down to it… who wouldn’t want to be a princess?!

“Invest in your kids’ talents. Especially if they are different from your talents” - David Irvine

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