By this point in summer, the novelty of long, warm days in the sun has long since worn off for your teenager. If left to their own devices, they’d spend all day playing on a device: scrolling through memes on their phones, visiting social media sites, playing video games, and more. You need strategies that will help get your child off of their devices and engaged in something productive. Camps are great, but sending your child to a new camp every week is both impractical and expensive. These strategies, however, can be used all summer.
Create a Screen Time List
Sure, your child can have screen time–after they’ve checked all of the items off of their To Do list for the day. Until that point, you can choose to simply trust that they aren’t glued to their devices or to change the WiFi password and withhold it until they’ve completed the items on their list. This list might include:
- Reading something
- Completing chores, including both everyday chores and specific chores that need to be completed
- Going outside for at least 30 minutes
- Participating in at least 30 minutes of physical activity (savvy teens can combine this item and the previous one!)
While this might not cut down on screen time completely, it will significantly reduce the hours your child has to spend scrolling aimlessly.
Get Them Engaged
Summer’s not over yet–and all that free time can be used productively if your students only take advantage of it. Find a project or cause that will get them engaged. Volunteer for a program at church. Create a new club or organization that they want to kick off when school starts. Encourage them to give back to the community. Choose a subject where your teen typically struggles and find a tutor that will help them or give them the tools to build those skills alone. When they’re engaged in a project, they won’t be staring mindlessly at a screen. You can also choose a project together as a family: redecorate a specific room in the house, make it a mission to read a specific book or series of books together, or decide that you’re going to do something different next year that you can prepare over the summer (get more organized, anyone?).
Offer Incentive to Get Outside
Let’s face it: no matter where you are in the United States right now, it’s hot. Most kids would rather sit inside in air-conditioned comfort than head outside, where they’ll be dripping with sweat within minutes. Instead of just expecting them to make excuses to head outside, try offering some incentive that will get them outside and moving.
- Find a local swimming spot. Pools are great, especially if you choose to purchase a summer membership instead of having to pay the dues each time you go. Lakes and oceans, on the other hand, are often free! Some gyms also include pool access for kids as part of a family membership.
- Bring water with you: water balloons and water guns are still plenty of fun for teens, especially if they feel that you’re getting involved along with them.
- Engage in sports or activities together as a family. This might include early morning running sessions, getting on your bikes together, or playing a pickup game of basketball: whatever your family loves most!
- Get creative! Design an obstacle course out of pool noodles, have a paint-filled egg toss, or create art with squirt guns filled with paint. Even the most jaded teen will be eager to enjoy these activities with you.
Invite Friends Over
Teens today are so used to connecting with their friends online and via text that it might not occur to them that they can have in-person visits. Encourage them to have friends over or go to their houses. You can also facilitate some fun summer get-togethers that will pull everyone in and get them off their devices (after all, there’s no point in hanging out with friends if you’re just staring at your phones together).
- Have a backyard water balloon fight (no phones allowed in the water!)
- Host a sparkling juice and painting party with online videos
- Have a sleepover complete with gooey brownies, makeovers, and more
- Hold a craft day when anyone can come and learn different crafts, complete crafty projects, or work together on projects
- Have a field day outside
Get Out of the House
Your child is much more likely to be on their device if they’re at home than they are if they’re out enjoying everything your community has to offer. Instead, take them out of the house! Do some research into what’s available in your area: zoos and aquariums are usually good for a visit or two, as are museums. You may also find jump parks, race tracks, and other fun opportunities that your teen can’t wait to enjoy. If you can’t go during the week due to work responsibilities, try spending some time at those places over the weekend, instead.
Keeping your teen off of their devices over the summer can be a challenge. These ideas, however, will give you a starting place for transforming the rest of your summer. Engage your teens in a variety of other activities and they won’t even have time to miss their phones! Need more help giving them an academic advantage for the coming school year? Contact us today to learn how we can help.