5 simple but useful tips to help unplug kids over the summer

5 simple but useful tips to help unplug kids over the summer

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Okinawa

Electronics and technology have essentially become an easy button for entertainment and communicating. I know I’m guilty. I could easily spend a day perusing Pinterest Boards and watching the latest cat-dressed-as-a-shark-riding-a-Roomba video on YouTube. I’m slightly ashamed to admit that my husband and I have sat on opposite couches and texted each other.

Recently, I did a completely non-scientific experiment on my 10-year old daughter. What would happen if I took away her electronics for two weeks? Granted, it was initially used as a form of punishment, but the results were pleasantly surprising. My moody, brooding tween was replaced by a friendlier, happier and more helpful version. I realized her amount of screen time was over the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation of no more than two hours a day. It was a wake-up call to start unplugging my kids. Here are five tips on how to do it.

1) Set up your household for success. Once you make the decision to cut the cords, try to remove or at least hide the temptation. I knew that my daughter would be tempted to play her Nintendo DS if I wasn’t looking, so I hid her device. Since she couldn’t see them, she wasn’t constantly reminded of what she thought she was missing.

2) Start slowly. This might not work for everyone, but I find that if you slowly start reducing screen time, it isn’t quite as noticeable and maybe less of a shock on his or her system. Others may find it easier to go cold turkey; you’ll know what’s right for your family.

3) Everyone on the same train. Be sure that all caregivers in the household are on the same page. Otherwise, the plan can go awry; if the kids realize that not everyone is on board, they’ll turn to the person that is most likely going to say yes.

4) Prepare for resistance. Let’s be honest—there will most likely be some serious pushback. Some kids may feel as though it’s the end of the world and can’t understand why you want to return to the primitive ages. Acknowledge that you know it’s going to be tough, but it’s important to experience life without a screen.

5) Practice what you preach. This is one of the toughest hurdles as a parent. It’s easy to tell your kids to unplug, but if they see you on your phone or iPad, then it kind of defeats the purpose. Unplug along with your kids. Sometimes it’s not possible because of jobs or family emergencies, but try when you can. Some of the best conversations I’ve had with my kids were in a room with the TV off and the phones put away.

The onslaught of technology and electronics can be daunting and seem like a never-ending battle with our kids.  By limiting their screen time (or removing it altogether), they become more engaged with you and the world around them.

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