How to ensure safe screen time during the summer.
Summer is here, which means rising temperatures outside, endless hours swimming in a pool and family barbeques. It also means that kids will have more time than ever to surf the web, play games on the family tablet, or watch their favorite show. However, just because kids have more time available to sit in front of a screen, doesn’t mean they should. The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages screen time for kids under the age of 2, and recommends limiting screen time to no more than two hours a day of “” for older kids.
But, let’s face it. With countless hours to kill, and the scorching heat outside, sometimes, kids just want to stay indoors and chill out on the couch or play on the computer. And sometimes, that’s okay!
Here are some tips for a summer of safe (and limited) screen time:
- Use Internet safety controls to your advantage. On YouTube, parents can activate the Safety Mode to filter out videos with inappropriate content and keep kids from stumbling upon content they shouldn’t be looking at. Likewise, if your child likes to search the web, SafeSearch, within Google Search, will prevent sexually explicit videos, images and links that may lead to explicit content from popping up in Google search listings.
- If your child is a part of any social media sites, or sites that require a username and password, ask them to share their login information with you so that they know you may be checking up on them and their online activity.
- Talk to your kids about Internet safety. Communicate clear guidelines and discuss what (address, phone number, school location, school name) they should not share online.
- Thinking about investing in a tablet for the family? Kindle FreeTime allows kids to read books and play videos and apps that you select for them, while preventing them from accessing other features or content on the Kindle. Parents can also set limits of their child’s activity by monitoring the time spent on each content type.
- Keep your family computer in a common area and a place that is visible to everyone, so that you can monitor what your kids are looking at.
- Set expectations for screen time. Tell your kids ahead of time how much time they are allowed in front of the television, or on a media device, and hold them to those expectations. This way, there is no questioning when the kids know their time is up.
- As the temperatures rise and reach almost unbearable highs during the peak sunlight hours of the day, encourage kids to play outside in the morning, late afternoon, and evening. This way, they can use their allotted screen time wisely, and still get the physical activity and exercise they need for healthy, growing bodies.