I have very fond memories of my childhood summer holidays.
My first thirteen summers were spent camping for six weeks at Coffs Harbour (I’m in awe of my parents who did this on an unpowered site with three kids). We spent most of these holidays going to the beach, surfing, reading (Babysitters Club and Judy Blume books were my favourites), riding bikes, going to the beach, playing camp yard cricket, eating ice-creams (Dixie cups were on high rotation), playing ping-pong, going to the beach, visiting the Big Banana and sneaking off to the caravan park’s milk bar to buy a BIG bag of choc buds for 20 cents and quickly eating them before they melted in your hands.
What memories do you have of your summer holidays? Were they predominantly ‘analogue’ summer holidays like mine? Did you spend most of your time with people or pixels? These nostalgic memories shape the experiences we want to replicate for our kids’ and teens’ summers (I’m realistic, I know my kids won’t be able to buy choc buds for 20 cents and they’re unlikely to adopt my love of Judy Blume or Babysitter Club books, but I do want them to enjoy beach visits, days devouring books and street cricket).
So when we look at our kids’ plugged-in, screen-saturated summers we often feel riddled with guilt. I call it techno-guilt. There are online discussions (ironically) about kids and teens unplugging for summer and tips on how to go ‘screenfree’ over summer.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge advocate for boredom, digitally-disconnecting at times and having time to reboot (pardon the pun). I love that we aspire to spend connected time with our kids and family over summer (without their digital appendages), enjoying the benefits of laptopless summers and time where we don’t feel tethered to technology. Really,I do. I’ve already started to plan my summer screen sabbatical… and I salivate as I write about this. Our brains and bodies were never designed to be plugged in and processing information 24/7. This constant digital onslaught impacts our wellbeing and performance. We need time to unplug and digitally-disconnect.
However, aiming for a complete screenfree summer is not realistic as we approach 2020. It only makes us feel guilty and inadequate as parents. It’s a broken strategy.
Technology is now an integral part of our lives. Whether we love it, or loathe it, it’s here to stay. Banning technology, or suggesting it’s toxic or taboo will not serve our kids. It often only drives the behaviour underground and we miss an important opportunity to teach our kids how to be intentional and develop sustainable and productive tech habits. We need to help our kids and teens (and us too if we’re honest) foster healthy digital behaviours. These skills are learnt through experience and not through osmosis, or lectures from parents. We need to help cultivate tech habits where kids use technology and also where they start to learn to self-regulate and switch it off (don’t expect your 3-year-old, or even your 12-year-old to do this without occasional techno-tantrums).
Instead of banning screens this summer (and setting ourselves up to fail and our kids to hate us), we need to plan how we’ll use technology this summer. We need to have discussions with our kids and a plan of attack before the holidays begin. In consultation with our kids we need to set clear boundaries, discuss more than ‘how much’ time they’ll spend plugged-in (what, when, where, with whom and how they’ll use devices also must be considered), plan what screenfree activities they’ll do and think about how devices will be managed.
That’s why I created an express webinar called Screens and Summer- why your kids don’t need a screenfree summer (you can still catch the replay). I share six simple strategies I’ve developed as a mum to help tame my kids’ tech-habits during the school holidays. Ditch your ‘techno-guilt’ and ensure your kids’ and teens’ summer holidays aren’t hijacked by digital devices. And no, you won’t have to buy a safe to lock up your kids’ devices! This webinar is suitable for parents and carers of children and teens aged 5-14 years.
I cover topics such as…..how to use digital tools (#ironic) so the limits you agree upon actually stick (especially important for parents who are returning to work and know that your kids might be tempted to break the rules when you’re not home actively supervising), why ‘how much’ time they spend online is one of the least important things to focus on when it comes to managing screens this summer and easy ways to develop your summer tech plan. Register via the link below and also receive your tip sheet, a summer tech plan template and a summer bucket list.