Just when you thought the holidays are a distant memory here comes spring break, another long stretch in which you’ll have to find a way to keep your kids busy while they’re home from school.
Although some people travel during spring break, many families opt to stay close to home for various reasons. If you are planning on such a “staycation” with your kids, be careful. It can be very easy to waste the day away by turning on the TV or handing over your tablet for several hours. It’s important to teach your kids to use technology responsibly, even when they’re on vacation.
While there’s nothing wrong with using tech during your staycation, it shouldn’t be your children’s primary means of entertainment. Tech should be used sparingly during breaks, preferably during low-key points when everyone wants to unwind after a busy day.
Here are some technology safety tips for parents during spring break:
Set Guidelines for Your Kids When to Use Tech.
Before the start of spring break, talk to your kids about the rules regarding tech use. For example, will you let them have their smartphones right after they get up in the morning? What about at the end of the day? How long can they use them? Will they be allowed to bring tablets along on a day trip? If you plan a movie night, will that count towards their overall tech time?
If you download our free SecurlyHome app, it can help you manage your kids’ online activities. For example, if you don’t want them going online first thing in the morning, simply pause their internet connection overnight until the next morning.
Mini-Outings and Short Day Trips.
Since you’re doing a staycation, it’s a lot easier to plan quick day trips or half-day outings with your kids. A few hours at the playground, the beach, zoo, or museum can be done with very little prep. It’s not really necessary to have tech during these outings. However, if it’s a particularly long drive (e.g. to the beach), you may consider bringing a tablet or smartphone to keep them engaged, as long as they put them away once you get to your destination.
Use Tech as a Reward.
For very low-key days, you can use tech as a reward. In fact, savvier parents have created “screen contracts” with a list of activities that their children must complete to earn a certain amount of screen time. For example, if your child reads a book for 30 minutes, then he/she earns 15 minutes on the tablet. Note that this can be applied during any long breaks, including summer!
Here are just some examples of what you can have on your list:
- 30 minutes of playing outside
- 30 minutes of art
- 30 minutes of creating/building something (Play-Doh, LEGO, etc.)
- 30 minutes of reading
- 30 minutes of playing a board game
- 30 minutes of playing nicely with a sibling
- Help mom/dad with one chore
- Clean up bedroom
- Make the bed
- Feed the dog/cat
- Finish chores
- Morning routine (brush teeth/eat breakfast/get dressed)
More often than not, your kids will get so involved in one of those activities (not so much the chore-based ones!), that they’ll easily go over the minimum time and possibly even forget about their digital devices.
Set a Good Example for Your Kids.
It’s only fair that if your kids have limited use of technology, then you should restrict your own usage as well. Avoid reaching in your pocket for your smartphone when you’re at the zoo, unless it’s to take photos. Put your tablet down at home and join your kids in a board game. Save your tech use when they’ve gone to bed, or during an allotted time.
Incorporate Tech During Your Staycation.
Tech can be very useful –and fun!– during your kids’ break. For example, encourage them to take photos on outings and share them with friends and family. Buy them small photo albums and help them select pictures to print out. Organize a scavenger hunt around your neighborhood using one of many available apps. Make it a playdate and invite a friend! You can also play a family-friendly video game together, such as Super Mario Kart.
Using tech during your staycation in a healthy, balanced manner is possible. Your kids aren’t doomed to spend hours staring at their screens for the next five days. It just takes a little effort and planning on your part to limit their tech use. But if you need a little extra help in keeping track of your kids’ online activities, then try the Hub free for 30 days. You can easily manage all their digital devices from your own device anytime, anywhere.
Happy Spring Break!