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Published on July 17, 2013

Get Outside!

Limit summer screen time when the kids are home (and you’re not)

We’ve all seen the stats: the average kid spends 45 hours per week in front of a screen, watching TV, using the computer, playing video games.

Every parent knows that their child could use a little less technology and a lot more fresh air. But actually finding ways to make it happen isn’t easy—especially when they’re home all day on summer vacation and you’re stuck at the office.

So how can you help your kids take back summer? Try these tips:

  • Involve them in the plan: It’s no secret—kids rarely respond well to demands. Allot the total amount of screen time per day or week, then have them decide how to use it. Giving them some input in the rules can help them feel ownership.
  • Leave them with ideas: It takes a little extra preparation before you start your workday, but leaving the kids with some new play ideas can inspire them to ditch the computer and get outside. Cheap yard and water games, new books and crafts can pull kids away from the screen and into the backyard.
  • Make them earn it: Award extra screen time when your kids do more of a positive activity, like reading, completing an extra chore or exercising.
  • Use technology to your advantage: Sure, we’d all love to trust our kids to limit their own screen time. But to ensure that they are sticking to the limits you set, consider the use of a timer that ends their computer time when you aren’t there to do it. If you have Microsoft on your computer, this Microsoft video will show you how to set parental controls.
  • Practice what you preach: Limiting technology use won’t go far if you aren’t practicing what you preach. “Kids learn more from what you do than what you say. Set the example by limiting your OWN use of the cell phone and computer when you’re home,” suggests Dean child psychiatrist Bhawani Ballamudi, MD. “The kids will take you more seriously, and it frees up time up to join the family in the backyard for a game of catch after work or a campfire under the stars.”

How do you encourage your kids to get outside and enjoy summer, even when you aren’t around? Share your tips with us below!

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