Remember the good old days when summer meant running through the sprinklers, playing hopscotch, and riding your bicycle through the neighborhood? I certainly miss that!
These days, summertime for kids often means more time on their computer, phone, or tablet. Chances are high that your kids are probably on a device right now—and if you have teenagers, they’re probably on social media instead of spending time outdoors enjoying the warm weather.
Yes, social media has its benefits and it’s great for kids to be able to stay in touch with distant friends over the summer. But, you know what they say: too much of anything is not good—and that includes social media! Here are a few statistics to put things in perspective:
- The Huffington Post reports that 71% of teens admit to using more than one social network, including Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Twitter, and Snapchat.
- The same study found that 56% of teens say they are online several times a day.
- Another Huffington Post article found that 32% of teens have experienced threatening advances from others when online.
These data are pretty concerning! Other negative effects of too much social media include less sleep, higher rates of cyber-bullying, obesity, disrespect, numbness to violence, and changes in brain structure—the statistics are plentiful.
With that in mind, what better time to start a social media detox than this summer? We mean going cold-turkey. No social media for your kids—or you (because you have to lead by example)—this summer.
Already imagining your kids having a panic attack or staging an outright rebellion? Don’t worry, I have some tips to help keep your kids off social media this summer while still keeping them occupied.
Talk to Them First
Before taking any drastic measures, it’s important to let your kids know why social media will be off the table this summer.
Educate them on the effects of social media and point out how they’re spending too much time on social networks. Highlight the benefits of a social media detox and let them know it’s not forever.
Let’s be real—they will probably resist. Explaining why you’re enforcing a ban on social media is a better route than simply leaving them in the dark, and it may help get them on board with the plan. Make it clear that it’s not up for discussion and there will be no compromises.
Get Rid of Temptation
Now comes the hard part—enforcement.
Simply uninstalling social media apps will not be effective if you want to stop all social media contact. Try switching out your kids’ smartphones for basic ones so that you can still keep in touch this summer while still limiting their access to the internet.
Put away your other household devices like tablets, desktops, or laptops, and stick to one communal computer in a busy location like the kitchen or living room so that everyone’s activity can be monitored.
Swap Outside Time for Social Media Time
That said, it may be nearly impossible to actually enforce a ban on social media, especially for older, technologically-savvy children.
In that case, give your kids an opportunity to have limited, semi-monitored time on social media a couple days a week. That way they can still check in with their friends, and they’ll be more willing to stick to the social media ban on other days.
For example, institute a swapping system where 2 hours spent doing outdoor activities earns 30 minutes of social media time. You could even make coupons to keep track of the system.
In time, your kids will (hopefully) stop missing social media and will choose to spend more time outdoors doing fun summer activities.
Institute Family Activities
Getting the kids off social media is a big step, but the next is spending more time with them as a family. Instead of sending the kids outdoors by themselves, get yourself and the whole family outside and moving!
Hiking, cycling, camping, fishing, or simply going for a swim are examples of fun activities for the whole family. This is a great opportunity to talk and bond with your kids while they’re not distracted and staring at their phones.
But, make it a rule that no social media is allowed by anyone—even parents—while spending time with the family.
Keeping Your Kids Off Social Media: Lead by Example
Let’s face it, we’re often just as bad about social media as parents—if not worse—than our kids.
Particularly as working moms, it’s easy to become slaves to our devices. Whether we’re checking social networks or work emails, we can set bad examples by over-using our electronics.
To help keep your kids off social media, set a good example by not being so tied to your phone. Don’t distract your kids with the iPad all the time—although I admit it can be a lifesaver at times—and spend more time engaging in outdoor activities with your family this summer.
Not only will your kids benefit, but so will you!