Is Technology-Free Fun Possible This Summer? Yes! Here’s How.

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Screen time is a major battle during the school year, and summer makes it worse.

You can no longer tell your child to finish his homework before playing a video game. And a 1-hour computer time limit seems really short without school and sports taking up most of the day.

Is technology-free fun even possible?

Yes! And we’re here to help show you how.

Last month, we shared how to adjust your tactic so your kids partner with you on technology rules instead of fighting you. This month, we outline practical tips to help your kids stay in real life instead of virtual life this summer.

Delegate Responsibility

This seems counter-intuitive.

You may be thinking: “Give my daughter responsibility?! She’ll spend all day scrolling through Facebook without a second thought!”

But hear us out.

Your kids need to partner with you or you’ll be fighting them all summer. As soon as you stop being the cruise director, they’ll revert back to screen time. And it’s exhausting being the cruise director 12 hours a day, 7 days a week… we know.

Remember how back in the “good old days” your parents told you to go play outside. They didn’t spend hours brainstorming games and preparing crafts for the next day.

So get your kids involved. Make them use their imaginations. It didn’t hurt you when you were their age. It helped you.

Set Goals

Sit down as a family and set goals for your summer.

Focus on two main areas: engaging in real life and promoting empathy.

Both of these umbrella goals will help counteract the negative impacts of video gaming and screen time.

Engaging in Real Life

Put your kids in charge of brainstorming and completing one (or more) “real life” activity every day.

Creativity flows when your mind is quiet and empty. Your phone fills that quiet, empty space and blocks creativity. Give time for your kids to create their own “real life” experience every day.

They could visit with a friend, cook lunch, help in the garden, build a backyard fort, set up a family game for after dinner, complete a coloring book page, make a necklace, help with grocery shopping… the list is (almost) endless.

Decide how many “real life” activities you want them to complete every day before they can play a computer game.

Still need help filling the time?

1. Host a game night with your kids and their friends.

Here are some tried and true game ideas:

  • Minute to Win It—watch this example of the Movin’ On Up game.
  • Long John Balloons—you may be surprised how much junior high and high school kids love this game. One kid puts on size XXXL long johns (or the largest size you can find) while the other kids on the team blow up balloon and stuff them into the oversized long johns. See which team can get the most balloons in the long johns in 2 minutes.
  • Fizz Buzz—kids sit in a circle and take turns counting up to 100. Instead of 3 or multiples of 3, say “fizz.” Instead of 5 or multiples of 5, say “buzz.” (Example: 1, 2, fizz, 4, buzz, fizz, 7, 8, fizz, buzz, etc.)
  • Scavenger hunt—try one of these 10 scavenger lists at a park, museum, or shopping mall.

Want more fun party game ideas? Here are 20 more to add to your arsenal.

2. Join the Colorado Mountain Club.

They take kids on hikes to get exercise, interact with other kids, and learn about nature.

3. Sign up for swim lessons, cooking school, or sports camp.

The best part? You get a break from being in charge.

Promoting Empathy

Empathy diminishes the anger and violence fueled by video games.

As a family, brainstorm how you want to impact each other over the next 8 weeks? What about how you want to impact your extended family? Your friends? Your neighbors?

Dream big together!

Help your kids see the needs of the people around them — yes, even the needs of his annoying baby brother — and learn to fill them.

Encourage your kids to help in ways they enjoy.

Does she like baking? She could bake cookies and help elderly home residents decorate them.

Does he like sports? He could volunteer at a summer camp for younger kids.

Has she always wanted a younger sibling? Sign her up as a Boys & Girls Club mentor.

Volunteering helps you connect with the world around you. When you feel like you’re making a difference, you don’t feel the need to escape to technology.

Additional Resources

Still having a hard time getting your kids off technology? Try using technology to your advantage with one of these ideas:

  • abcya.com (learning games organized by grade level)
  • coolmath-games.com
  • Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage (game that teaches problem-solving skills)
  • Skype (“face to face” visits with grandparents or far-away friends are a great use of technology)
  • Read eBooks from your local library

Need more encouragement and ideas? Go to your local library or recreation center and ask about summer programs for all ages.

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