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Screen Time for Kids: 5 Solutions for Summer Struggles

It is inevitable. Long days, little structure. Screen time for kids struggles are to be expected.

What’s a parent to do!

It is an ongoing challenge at our house, but I have some ideas that we have tried in the past and some other suggestions to help manage your summer screen time for kids struggles.

The WHO recently released new screen time guidelines for kids under 5.  Less is more!

For older kids, it can be more challenging. The American Academy of Pediatrics has created a tool to help families set healthy screen time limits for kids. Create your own family media use plan here.

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1) Set a Timer

One tried and true method is to have a set amount of time for screens. This might be what you set for the school year or it may be expanded.

Personally I struggle with a set time period like 2 hours because there are the inevitable interruptions or the excuses of “my game was loading for 20 minutes,” etc. However, I know lots of people have made this strategy work.

To set a time limit on your iPad or iPhone using Guided Access, read more here. 

You can also use the new Screen Time feature to set limits and timers on iPad and iPhone. Read more here. 

You can also just set a good old-fashioned timer.

2) Set a Boundary

A boundary works as a set time when screens must be off. For example, you can play before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. This sets some limits but is easier to manage than a hard and fast set time.

This also works if you are relatively flexible about your kids spending a lot of time online in the summer but you do want some limits on it.

Some tech tools to help you enforce this include:

Microsoft Family will allow you to set times when the computer can be available or time limits for use.

Circle by Disney can also enable time limits or boundaries to control usage.

Check your router because many now provide parental controls.

3) Creator vs. User

Tech is not just mindless entertainment. Kids can also do a lot of really valuable activities online. For example rather than playing a game, they could be coding one. There are many ways to use tech creatively. Not all screen time is created equal. 

One idea for summer is to balance online time between creating time vs. using time.


4) Tech Tokens

We used this strategy a lot when the kids were younger. Similar to the time strategy, have physical tokens (such as magnets on the fridge, laminated tickets, or other tangible) that kids can turn in for a set amount of tech time.

You can assign a set number per day or you can have kids earn them by doing chores or other tasks.

Tech Tokens are also flexible because you can set the time they represent, such as 20 minutes or 2 hours. Download yours here!

5) Screen-free

Some brave souls go screen free for the summer or at least part of it. Honestly, I’m not sure I could do this myself. However, there are undoubtedly benefits.

Read more about how one mom helps reduce screen time for kids in the summer. 

What strategies do you use to manage screen time for kids?


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15 thoughts on “Screen Time for Kids: 5 Solutions for Summer Struggles

  1. I love that you said “some brave souls go tech-free all summer.” That seems impossible for me. I generally set time limits for any screen time that is used being creative and have them earn time for ‘fun’ things like games or kids YouTube. I really like the idea of tech tokens! Will try that this summer!

  2. In our house, screen time is before breakfast (my kids are super early risers!!) and in the evenings after my oldest has done his homework. It seems to work for us right now. I do agree that not all tech is bad. My son has started making movies with his LEGOs and I think that creativity is amazing!

  3. I know screen time is going to be a struggle with my oldest son this summer, so I can use all the tips I can get! I love all these ideas and will probably use them throughout the summer. Thanks!!

  4. I love these tips. We usually set a timer, but yeah, I’ll admit, sometimes after the timer goes off it’s easier to just say, “okay, a few more minutes is fine.” Especially when I work from home and I just need ten more minutes to accomplish something! Ha! But we try to go outside every day too for a walk or to run around at a park, so I think finding balance is key.

  5. Those tech tokens are amazing, what a lovely idea! We usually have screen free summers. I make a point to have at least one adventure a day and that seems to really help with the screen time elimination!

  6. Screen time is not a bad thing. Parents can guide and set limits to their children’s usage. The more we can control their exposure in terms of time spent and content the better. It’s up to us to set the rules for we know what’s best for our kids.

  7. I really like the timer idea. We plan to spend a lot of time outside this summer which I am excited about. Less screen time is definitely what we are going for.

  8. Thanks for these tips! We have been a screen free home this past school year except for family movie night on the weekends so it can be done! I’ve been thinking about allowing my son to use the iPad for some educational games but wasn’t sure how to keep it from getting out of control. Love your idea of a tech token!

  9. These are great suggestions!! My kids have to earn screen time by doing something productive, creative or active!

  10. Holy cow, I LOVE the idea of Tech Tokens! Love it so much. We only have one ipad, and my middle one always wants to be on it, but then she never does anything to earn that time. Ha. jokes on her, because Tech Tokens are starting soon 😀

  11. I love the tech tokens and agree with limiting screen time to a certain extent, but I know plenty of 2 yr. Olds who can talk in full articulated sentences, know their colors, numbers, and letters, and it’s because of engaging in early learning videos. I think screen time should be used as a tool, with limited time as a play thing. Really great post.

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