The battle over screen time is constant in our house. It’s very difficult to set boundaries and stick to them. Sometimes, I’m just too tired to go to war over the iPad. But, studies show that kids are getting 400 percent more screen time than they should and what it’s doing to their brains is not good.
According to Dr. Robert Melillo, co-founder of Brain Balance Achievement Centers a holistic, drug-free approach to addressing behavioral, social, and learning difficulties, the average kid has 7.5 hours of screen time per day. That is six hours more than the recommended 1.5 hours.
Studies show that excess screen time inhibits right brain development. This leads to short attention spans and inhibited social development. Yikes. I just hate it that these devices have completely taken over our world and hijacked the brains of Gen Z, also known as the Homeland Generation.
Here are three way to reduce screen time this summer:
Many parents turn to “educational” apps to feel better about screen time, but a screen is still a screen. To encourage traditional childhood learning, present your kids with an array of books or academic workbooks, or take them to museums. (We’ve signed up for a summer reading program. We’ve also planned a few museum adventures.)
Try enrolling your child in a summer camp, but be sure the camp is strictly screen-free. There are many creative camps that include arts and crafts, musical theatre, and dancing, or a sports-oriented program that encourages outdoor activities like swimming and soccer. We’re doing lots of screen-free camps this summer. My very favorite are Riversport Adventure Camps in Oklahoma City. The kids come home tired and happy.
Alternative Outdoor Activities
Screens can be used as an easy tactic to calm a difficult child. If your child tends to lack focus, they might also get bored while playing games. You may find yourself giving in and allowing them to watch more TV or iPad shows than you would normally approve of. Outdoor activities are an alternative way to pique their interest. Some of our favorite outdoor activities are gardening and bike-riding. We also like to go to picking farms during the summer. We like Buffalo Creek Berry Farm near Mustang.
Since the right hemisphere of the brain regulates impulsivity, attention, and socially appropriate behavior, a child with decreased right brain activity may be hyperactive, oppositional, disruptive, and often distracted. To see if your child’s screen use might be linked to a brain imbalance, take this simple online assessment: https://www.
The following infographic is from Project Lead The Way. It highlights summer stem activities. (I’m also a big fan of STEAM, which incorporates the ARTS into STEM learning.) As we all know, kids experience harmful learning loss over the summer. While we all enjoy summer vacation, (it’s a great tradition across most of America), it predates today’s understanding of how kids learn best.
Did you know kids can lose up to two months of reading and math skills over summer? Teachers spend several weeks covering old material just to catch kids up. Fortunately, even minimal mental engagement can prevent losing ground.
How are you fighting screen time this summer?