The holidays are almost here, and that also means a break from the school routine. It can be hard to figure out how to keep your kids engaged and busy during vacation downtime, and one of the easiest habits to fall into is using their screens to keep them quiet and complaint-free.
However, in reality, screen time can be problematic for families over the holidays, and you don't want a few days of the year to set up bad habits for months to come. If you want to best manage holiday screen time this year, read about some of the most common holiday screen time pitfalls for families. Then you can learn how to better manage screen time so it's enjoyable and helpful, without any drawbacks.
Screen Time Pitfalls During the Holidays
Here are some common challenges and problems that arise with too much screen time during the holidays:
- Not enough time is spent together as a family, interacting and making new memories.
- Not enough time is spent being present and acknowledging or observing the holiday (the whole purpose of the break).
- Meals and holiday goodies aren't properly enjoyed if faces are buried in screens.
- Kids can't appreciate and fully immerse themselves in the spirit of giving to others.
- Kids can't be present for guests in your home or be "good hosts" if they are focused on their screens.
How to Handle Screen Time Effectively During the Holiday Break
The best way to manage the holidays for your family is to reduce screen time, without removing it completely. Here are some tactics for managing that effectively.
Have a frank discussion beforehand.
The week before the holidays, talk to your kids about the break and what it means. Explain why screen time will be limited even though they are not in school and don't have homework. Focus on the benefits of not having screens: more time to play together, more time to play with new toys, more attention to give to friends and family members they don't get to see often.
Let your kids have some say.
If you simply dictate the rules for screen time, you'll seem like Scrooge. Instead, tell them they get a certain amount of time per day, and then ask them when they would like that time (in the morning, as a break during the day, before bed, etc.) By giving them some agency, they feel like they have some say in the process.
Make screen time something you do together.
Instead of your child spending their allotted screentime with their nose buried in individual devices, spend your holiday screen time watching movies together. Go to the movies as a big family outing, or pick television shows or movies that everyone likes. That way screen time can have an element of bonding, while still entertaining.
Make other plans.
When you're all busy, kids won't even think about wanting to be on their screens. Make plans during the holidays so that everyone is occupied, and screen time will never have to be the subject of an argument or discussion.
At Brain Balance, we believe too much screen time affects the ability of the brain to form healthy connections as muscles and our senses are two of the biggest drivers of brain development, and screen time typically limits engagement of both. This can lead to behavioral problems and other developmental issues. Contact us online to learn more about how the Brain Balance Program can help. You can also view the current and ongoing research behind the program.