Is There a Place for Screens in Summer?
Set Some Rules!
You are a parent, so it’s up to you to set some rules when it comes to screen time. The earlier you start, the better off you will be. I love these very clear rules from The Mad House. We also have very clear rules of no screens within an hour of bedtime, and screen limits. Our daughter is not at all interested in TV, but her overall daily screen time at home is limited to 30 minutes for games, 30 minutes for learning, and unlimited time in case if she ever wants to use a computer to create things. Alas, she is not interested in this last generous offer and barely uses her learning time in summer. She just uses her game time, and this is OK with us as long as she sticks to her limits.
Should You Monitor Online Usage?I think it depends strongly on the kid and on the rules. We prefer for our daughter to use her laptop or iPad in our vicinity, so we have a general idea of what she is doing. We also have a landing page for her in a laptop browser with a few websites she frequents – that helps her not to waste too much time deciding on where she wants to spend her screen time. Here are a few places in her list of favorite websites – many of them have flash-based games and therefore not available on iPad:
YouTube for Kids app released by Google recently for both iPad and Android platforms. I was thinking that I can “whitelist” certain channels for my daughter based on her interests. Alas, the channels of YouTube for Kids are preselected by Google, and there is no way to change them. Perhaps this is something of the future. In the meantime, we mostly watch YouTube together – Smarty’s favorite channels are School House Rock and Periodic Videos.
How Do We Pick New Apps or Websites?
We rely heavily on “word of mouth”, especially from bloggers I respect. Beth at iGameMom publishes a lot of app reviews including this great guide of apps for kids by age and subject. Melissa at Imagination Soup also has great reviews, especially for older kids – we found some new games through her Best Geometry Apps for Kids. But I am pretty sure that every child will have different favorites – for example, my 8 year old never caught on to Minecraft even though practically every child in her class plays it and kids discuss it at school all the time. It’s probably best to think of the things that your kids like and find applications and YouTube channels that appeal to their unique interests.
Play Together or Talk About Online WorldsMany parents say that kids “disappear” into their online worlds, and this is certainly true while they play. This is why you might want to consider playing video games or games such as Minecraft together with your younger kids who would think that you are very cool, because you can shoot monsters right next with them. While I don’t play games with my daughter (my husband does sometimes), we talk about her favorite games, so at least I understand why she likes some games that I find mind-bogglingly dull.
How Much Is Too Much?
You might be tempted to let your children spend as much time as they want “out of trouble” and in front of screens, but remember that screen addition is real and can take its toll on children. No, your children, even if they are overall responsible for their age, cannot decide for themselves the limits on their screen usage. This brings me back to the point of remembering who is in charge and setting reasonable rules that will change as our kids grow.
More Websites and Apps for Kids?Follow my Online Learning and Apps Pinterest board
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How much time do your kids spend with screens in summer?
More Summer STEM Ideas?Science: Summer Sink or Float Fun from Crafty Kids at Home
Engineering: Blocks in a Kiddie Pool from Mom Inspired Life
Math: 5 Ways to Learn Patterns Outside from Bambini Travel