If you are like most families, summer means vacation. And if your kids are like most kids, they tend to be tethered to their technology. Whether planning to travel abroad or a long weekend at a local campground, summer is a time for exploration and simply paying attention to the beauty around us.
We want to help you “disconnect” your kids from their favorite devices and get them back to nature this summer with these helpful tips:
- Plan activities from your own childhood. Remember the days when you played outside for hours? Those same activities are still fun…especially when the entire family engages. Play a game of kickball, go for a bike ride (with a fun destination at the end of the ride; perhaps an ice cream stand or park), explore the woods, or play a game around the campfire. You’d be surprised at how quickly kids forget about technology when they are having fun outdoors.
- Identify vacation destinations that are family friendly. It’s tough to disengage kids from technology when there is “nothing” to do. While nature is fantastic, kids can only look for so long. They need to be active. If you are a camper, make sure your campground has activities for kids onsite or nearby. For example, a go-kart park, rock climbing wall, zip line or a swimming pool. If you are a hotel dweller, the same ideas apply.
- Bring fun nature projects for kids to work on. Engage your child’s mind in something hands-on that isn’t a smartphone. Build a birdfeeder from a kit, create a bug box or plan a fun outdoor scavenger hunt. Build in some creative time with your kids and experience the fun together.
- Find apps with built-in timers. You can certainly offer kids some time with their devices. Just keep it to a minimum while on vacation. There are game apps that offer internal timers so the app stops on its own. It’s up to parents to make sure kiddos don’t just jump into another app.
- Lead by example. When children see their parents constantly connected to a mobile device, it validates their own use. Put down your own smartphone or tablet and engage in your vacation with your kids.
Here’s to getting your entire family back to nature! Have a fun and safe summer.