Hello, summer! For parents, it means more time to relax, and for children, more time to play. The digital world offers many opportunities to spend time and fight the occasional boredom. Embracing a balanced approach to digital devices can significantly improve family ties and children's physical, mental and emotional development. Encouraging responsible and mindful digital habits can foster solid relationships and well-being in the family. Here are eight tips to help ensure families' healthy use of digital devices.
1. Set screen time limit
During summer, with school being over, work generally slowing down, and especially when on holiday, it might become more difficult to realise how much time we are actually spending on our devices. For this reason, it is important to establish clear and reasonable limits on how much time family members can spend on digital devices daily.
Consider creating some age-appropriate guidelines that work for you and your family members. It will help children manage their screen time, monitor online and offline activities, and develop time planning skills. Parents and caregivers can use this as a foundation to discuss internet use safety and meaningful time spent online. Additionally, it facilitates the conversation to establish internet usage rules at home.
2. Create tech-free zones
Choose areas in your home where digital devices are not allowed, such as the bedroom, the dinner table, or some areas in the living room. Create a space that fosters creativity and imagination, where children can explore their artistic skills, read books, or engage in imaginative play without the constant allure of digital entertainment. Keeping digital devices out of the bedroom improves sleep patterns and overall well-being. By making bedrooms a tech-free zone, children and adults can enjoy more restful sleep, wake up refreshed and be more focused and productive throughout the day.
3. Establish tech-free time
Designate periods of the day or week when all family members agree to put away their digital devices. This might include meal times, evenings, or weekends. Use this time to engage in activities like storytelling, look at a photo album, share memories and play outside. This will help everyone fully engage in meaningful family activities without distractions.
4. Encourage device-free meals
Ask everyone to put away their devices while eating. It can promote meaningful conversations and quality family bonding. Maybe use this time to talk about what all family members have been doing online, what they like, what they don’t like, what they have discovered, and anything that concerns them. Having regular, open, and honest conversations about the pros and cons of being online can give children the confidence to speak up if they encounter any issues.
5. Foster collaboration and communication
Create an atmosphere where family members feel comfortable discussing their digital experience, concerns, and questions. Encourage open dialogue about online safety and the potential risks of excessive screen time. Stay informed about digital trends and educate the family about a responsible digital behaviour, or the consequences of cyberbullying. Collaborate as a family to set boundaries, establish screen time guidelines, and find solutions to challenges related to digital devices. Remember to reward responsible digital behaviour.
6. Be a model of healthy digital behaviour
Demonstrate responsible digital habits yourself, following the guidelines you set for your children. Be consistent in your device usage and prioritise family interaction. Plan time out, engage in physical exercise, engage in family activities, and use the opportunity to share your interests with your children. When parents follow the guidelines, it reinforces the idea that everyone in the family is committed to responsible digital behaviour.
7. Encourage educational use of digital resources
Use digital devices for educational purposes. Explore age-appropriate educational apps, websites, platforms, and online resources that can enhance learning and skill development. At Better Internet for Kids, we provide a positive content criteria checklist where parents and caregivers can stay informed of the features they should look out for when choosing online experiences for younger children.
8. Regularly evaluate and adjust your rules
Every family is different, do not forget to reassess the family’s digital rules and adjust when necessary. As kids mature and demonstrate responsibility, consider loosening restrictions while reinforcing digital accountability. This flexibility ensures a supportive and adaptable digital environment that promotes healthy habits and responsible digital citizenship.
Establishing digital guidelines over the summer period fosters strong relationships between you and your children and enhances family happiness and well-being. We hope you have a good time with your family during the summer, and we believe these guidelines will help you to strengthen your family ties.
For more information and tips to help you educate your children in the digital realm:
- Visit our resource gallery, where we gather videos and educational resources for parents, caregivers and teachers.
- Check our Guide to apps to help you to stay informed about the most popular apps, social networking sites and other platforms that children and young people often use.
- Reach out to your national Safer Internet Centre for direct support, including a helpline that offers children and young people, parents and the general public pieces of advice on how to deal with harmful contact conduct and content.