4 Ways Screen Time Can Be Engagement Time

Now that most schools are off for the summer, the countdown has officially begun until the start of the school year – two months, or about 87,600 minutes, and counting. For kids used to an eight hour school day, that’s 480 extra minutes each day to keep themselves occupied, not including homework, or any other clubs that they do after school.

I remember how I used to spend my summers, and what I’m most nostalgic about is how device-free they were. Those days seem like eons ago. A few years back, there was a highly publicized Childwise study showing kids and teens aged 5-16 spend up to six hours a day in front of screens. That’s an incredible amount of time interacting with a computer, TV, or a smart phone. If you parents are letting out a collective groan, here’s some more news – American adults are averaging over 10 hours a day on their screens. True, many of the things we do on a screen are in the productivity sphere, but that’s a huge majority of our waking hours interacting with zeroes and ones.

The fact is, adults are likely the major reason why kids are spending so much time on devices. According to Common Sense Media, 78 percent of the parents surveyed in a recent poll viewed themselves as positive role models in their own uses of technology. So what’s one to do? We all use technology differently, but when kids literally are born into a plugged-in society, is it any question as to what their preferred means of engagement are?

As summer kicks in, and parents come up with an array of activities keeping kids busy and involved, screen time becomes an obvious and affordable choice.

We all know how important technology is as a tool for creativity. Kids increasingly need technology skills, so infusing technology and learning this summer could be key. So, here are four ideas on how to maximize the the efficacy of screen time so that kids can be more than passive observers.

  1. Work with kids on making a video by letting them use phones to get creative on walks and at parties, or by creating instructional videos about their hobbies. I’ve used some of these in the classroom before, and they can just as easily be used at home.

     2. Have them create music playlists, enabling them to explore new types of music. Spotify has an awesome filter for being sure the music is safe and fun.

3. Give a kid a smart watch so they can monitor their fitness levels and become aware of the positive benefits of heart rate monitoring, calorie counting, and hone math skills in real time.

4. And finally, because it’s summer, don’t forget that kids can learn a ton from video game.

Above all, screen time can be fun and useful. And what’s more, when kids get the hang of the apps they’re using, they’ll be teaching you in no time, and giving you a little breather as well.