If you and your kids went a little overboard on screen-time this summer, you’re in good company. According to a Harris Interactive poll, about half of all parents say their kids watch more TV, play more video games, surf the Web more, and watch more movies during the summer months.
With back-to-school around the corner, it’s time to re-establish some limits on media. These strategies can help you get a jump on things:
Have a last blast. Plan a special media-centered event that the whole family will enjoy—something you couldn’t do during the school year. A movie in the park, an all-day video game session, a binge-watching marathon of streaming shows are all fun ways to say, “so long, summer.”
Prepare your kids. Talk about the routine changes that come along with the school year. Discuss the concept of “balance”—a daily mix of exercise, reading, social and family time, school work, and entertainment. A week before school starts, get serious about bedtime, and turn off the TV, games, and electronic devices at least an hour before hitting the sack. The stimulation of media makes it hard for kids to settle down.
Create a school-year media plan. Take out a calendar, and work with your kids to create a weekly schedule that includes homework, chores, and activities—plus TV, games, movies, etc. Kids don’t always understand the concept of “Thursday,” but if they see their activities written down, they know what to expect and when to expect it.
Raid the library. Go for the books, but also find out whether your local branch offers programs for kids—like puppet shows, reading hours, or other activities. It’s like a little baby step to school.
Remember you’re their role model. Sneak your iPhone under the table, and your kids will catch you. Model the healthy media habits you’d like your kids to follow.