Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Parental Debate: Should Kids Go Unplugged During the Summer?

Today, technology is an essential part of kids’ schooling and has become deeply integrated into much of the curriculum- but that has not stopped parents from asking themselves; how much technology is too much? This question comes up again with even more urgency when the weather improves and school is no longer in session. Many parents feel more inclined to let their children indulge in more technology use during the winter months when playing outside isn’t really an option but when summer break starts, feelings change and boundaries become less clear. 

The start of summer break has many parents debating- should they make their kids go unplugged for the summer or is that asking too much? Some parents feel that a tech-free policy for the summer is unfair or just unrealistic, others think that its necessary to get kids to go outside and keep playing. To give some perspective on this hot topic, we researched what the experts had to say. 
ONCEKids Publishing is run by literacy advocate and Mompreneur Eileen Wacker.  Click here to find her acclaimed books

Much to my surprise, feedback from experts did not support turning off technology for the summer but thought that such a policy was not only unfair, but even cruel. Their support behind this thought was that school is a social place where kids can see and interact with all their friends but during the summer months, kids lose some of that interaction and technology is a method for keeping in touch. Author of “From Fear to Facebook”, Matt Levinson, says that staying in touch through social media or texting is a way for kids to preserve their social connections. 

Despite the conclusion that kids should not be forced to unplug completely during the summer, experts do emphasize that there are other methods and strategies for keeping kids actively playing and spending time outside and not always on technology. 

One method is to lead by example. Parents need to be good models for their kids by paying attention to their own use of technology. If parents are always plugged in, then how can they expect their kids to be inclined to unplug? 

Another method is to search for a regulating approach that works for your family. Every family is unique, and different strategies and rules work for different families. Technology use during the summer should not be as black and white as either no rules surrounding technology or banning it altogether, but some sort of happy medium should be implemented. Examples of boundaries you could set for your family could include a time limit on recreational technology use or a rule that no one can use technology starting an hour before bedtime (this is a great way to reserve time for reading each day). 

Another method experts suggest is to come up with a list of fun activities that the whole family can participate in that don’t involve technology. This is a great way to encourage kids to expand their hobbies and participate in activities that don’t involve any sort of technology without having to ban or implement strict rules surrounding technology use. Added bonuses include spending more time as a family!

What do your thoughts? Should kids be technology free during the summer? 

ONCEKids Publishing is run by literacy advocate and Mompreneur Eileen Wacker.  Click here to find her acclaimed books

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