It’s August. The craft supplies are used up, the inflatable pool in the back yard has sprung a leak, and you’re down to your last popsicle. You’ve hit the point in the summer where you’ve done all kinds of cool stuff with your kids, and now you’re all a little tired and bored. And it’s still only August. You were hoping to put this off for as long as possible, but it might be time to bring out…the screens.
No judgement here. You’re living with wee thinkers who are accustomed to using devices about as often as they use a toothbrush (maybe more often, actually). It’s commendable that you’ve been working hard to create quality family time, to give them a magical summer, and to make the most of the warmer weather. However, if you’ve run out of steam (even temporarily), and you need to resort to electronic devices to keep your kids busy for a bit (or for more than a bit), it’s okay.
Here are three reasons why a little bit of screen time is not such a bad thing:
- There’s a lot of cartoon-y nonsense out there, but there’s also a lot of great stuff available, stuff that’s both entertaining and educational. As long as at least part of a kid’s time online or on a device is spent on something with a bit of substance, it’s okay. Be sure to designate a time limit for said nonsense, and be judicious about the kinds of things that get downloaded. Better still, set up a list of criteria with your little thinker, allow them to shop around, and ask them to “sell” you on apps and games based on their learning potential.
- Summer is prime time for road trips, camping, and vacations. If any of these three are part of your plans, you’re probably going to need to keep your kids busy for long periods of travel, or during rotten weather. Screens are portable, and hold a lot of content. Accept them as a valuable tools in these situations. Come to an understanding with your child that as soon as you reach your destination, or as soon as the sun comes out again, they’ll be expected to unplug.
- Going from student mode, to vacation mode, to student mode again within the span of 8-10 weeks can be a bit of a shock to the system, even for a summer-ready kid. A little screen time is a great way to keep at least part of their brain in learning mode, and can also help build or brush up on specific skills.
You’ll notice that all three of these points have something in common: it’s essential to load up devices with quality materials, and to set guidelines and rules for the amount of time spent in front of a screen. No one, especially a child, needs to spend an entire summer in e-mode. There are trees to climb, bikes to ride, and ice cream trucks to chase. However, by being a little circumspect about the content and duration of screen time, parents may find a little guilt-free break time of their own.