Now that the summer holidays are upon us, all the kids can think about is looking forward to having some much-needed freedom and fun! However, what is considered ‘fun’ is very different to youngsters today, rather than back when we were children. Although I dabbled in technology a lot as a child it wasn’t considered something normal and spending most of my time with my grandmother meant playing outside was a guarantee unless it was raining. These days children reach for their electronic gadgets and play with them for hours at a time, especially on devices such as Xbox or PlayStation. Games are now designed to keep you playing as long as possible, with creators aiming to get that dopamine flowing. Considering how effective it is in adults, there’s no doubt in my mind that it affects children as well.
The world isn’t black or white though, and banning children from technology in today’s society simply wouldn’t be effective or a good strategy. Instead, it’s important to get the balance right. But, for many parents in this digital age, arguments over screen time and devices are a common occurrence, and knowing how much time is too much is very difficult to decide, because the last thing you want is for your child to become addicted to tech.
As a result, knowing how to keep children amused throughout the six-week school holidays can sometimes be daunting, especially when things cost so much. Here are some ideas to help keep everyone happy without needing to spend a fortune and resorting to using electronic gadgets:
1. Set an example
This is something I need to work on and as a blogger I’ve definitely been guilty of trying to multi-task. If you want your children to stay off any electronic gadgets, set an example to your children yourself. If you often sit with your phone in hand scrolling through Facebook or Instagram, try to fill your time doing something constructive instead – perhaps even get the kids involved. I find that when I force myself to put the phone away, I’m much more present in the moment too.
If you must check your emails regularly, make sure you do this outside of family time. Pick a time early in the morning when everyone else is still asleep, or once the kids have gone to bed.
2. Have a “no-tech” rule
From a young age, set simple rules with the kids about the use of gadgets in the house. For example, they can only be used once they have completed a learning activity each day, such as doing homework or reading a book, to show them that electronic use is a reward.
It’s also good to set a time when the kids can use their devices, and rules when they cannot. For example, come to an agreement with your children to only spend 30 minutes to an hour in front of a screen each day, as it’s important for them to understand the concept of ‘moderation’. It is worth introducing no digital use at the at the table if you don’t already – this should be an opportunity to bond together and catch up about the day without the disruption of social media and games.
3. Play games
To prevent the use of electronics, encourage your children to play more games and partake in healthy, active and fun outdoor activities – particularly as a family. For example playing football, going cycling, ice skating, swimming or walking the dog. There are also many indoor activities that require co-operation and interaction such as board games and jigsaw puzzles! Whether this be going for a kick around in your garden or local park, or playing board games, it can really help to spend quality time together, whilst exercising the body or brain.
Alternatively, your children may want to play other games with you, such as creating a Lego house, building a race course or even dressing up in childrens fancy dress costumes.
4. Invite over friends and family
As the saying goes, “the more, the merrier” couldn’t be more true. During the holidays, invite friends and family members over whenever you can. Most people use the likes of social media to keep in touch with friends and family, so having the opportunity to spend some time face-to-face will do the world of good. And as children love to socialise and play games with other kids of varying ages, they might just forget about their gadgets for a while. My family loves having a get together with a BBQ in the garden, combining the outdoors, simple food and good company is fun for parents and children alike.
5. Encourage learning
To encourage development, persuade your children to learn something new every day. For instance, head to the library and get them check-out a non-fiction book each week, or aim to visit one educational spot each week of the summer holidays, such as the Natural History Museum to the RAF Museum to discover some historical facts to impress their teacher’s when back at school.
Alternatively, if you want to push your children slowly outside their comfort zone, get them to try new activities they haven’t thought about before. Introduce them to the idea of attending a summer club where they will meet new people and learn new skills, ranging from Scouts to joining a sports or dance team. Older children might write about their day or even get paid by people who pay for essay writing!
Hopefully this article has given you some good ideas for how to encourage your children to ditch the Xbox and be more involved with the family this summer. Let me know if your family has any suggestions in the comments.