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13 Tips for A Screen-Free Holiday Season | NEWS-Line for Respiratory Care Professionals

13 Tips for A Screen-Free Holiday Season


The holidays can be a period of increased screen time for kids, whether it’s more time playing video games, scrolling through Instagram, or binging the latest series. But it can also be a great opportunity to establish new habits, spend more quality time with family, and set intentions for the new year. Below is a list of tips from experts convened by Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development on how kids and their families can make the most of their time-off this holiday season.

Encourage your child to make a list of things they want to do or accomplish with their extra time. Maybe they want to learn a new skill or spend more time practicing an old one, see friends, read a book, make something from scratch, or help someone in need. Everyone in the family can make their own list, and then together you can work towards completing them.

Go Screen-Free
If you haven’t already done so, agree upon spaces in the home or specific times when all screens will be put away. This might include mealtimes, car or walks in the park. Some families take a “digital Sabbath” once during a weekend. Phones and other personal screens are completely out of sight during these times. Don’t forget to follow this rule yourself, too!

Spice Up Mealtime Convo
Make family dinnertime more interesting with conversation starters and leave your screens off the table. Ask questions like, if you could travel back in time, when would it be? If you would travel anywhere in the world, where would it be? Ask each family member to name one thing that they are curious about. Have each child share what he or she would like to be when they grow up. Look online for some interesting statistics from 2022 and ask your family questions like, What country in the world consumes the most candy thinker who ever lived? Bring up an issue and try arguing for or against. You may be surprised how much your family has to say!

Embrace Boredom
It’s okay to be bored! Resist the urge to hand over a screen and let your child sit in their boredom. It may be uncomfortable at first, but it has many benefits for developing (and overworked) brains, including self-awareness, creativity, and rest.

Create and Explore Together
Breaks are the perfect time to work together on a family project. Wax nostalgic sharing old family stories your kids might not know, looking back at and organizing or digitizing old photos, and/or exploring your ancestors’ journeys by creating a family genealogy. Creating new spaces in your home or working on a family art project to hang in the kitchen are also great ways to spend time together and give everyone a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

Find Balance
When school is out, it can be tempting to go into full relaxation mode. Encourage your children to use this time for personal growth, or learning things they may not have time for during a usual school week. This time can be balanced with time for general entertainment or rest, and you may even set different screen time allowances for each. Whether just having fun, learning something new, or connecting with friends and family – on screens or balance in their time spent doing different activities.

Get Engaged
Try to take your own break from work and other responsibilities to engage in screen-free fun with your child. Brainstorm media free things you can do, like a trip to the zoo, a walk around the neighborhood, a scavenger hunt (indoors or outdoors, depending on weather), or building a fort! The options are endless and can take anywhere from 5 minutes to a whole day - so get creative and encourage your children to do the same.

Take Breaks
If your children are getting screen time, make sure they take a 10-15 minute break every hour or so. This break can be anything that doesn’t involve technology, but the more active or social the break, the better. This will help “reset” their brain and prevent tech overload.

Take Time For Others
Make time for acts of service. Serve food at a local soup kitchen or help at a community garden, or donate clothing, food, or toys. Research options in your community, encourage your teens to help with the search, and give back as a family.

Share The Love
Encourage everyone in your household to share the love with someone each and every day! Give a hug (to someone in your house!), write a personal holiday card, create a homemade holiday gift, enjoy each person’s favorite meal just because it’s their favorite, send a holiday music video to grandma and grandpa – the possibilities are endless!

Stick To Routine
It’s okay to make some exceptions during holiday breaks, especially if extracurricular activities are on hold, but try to stick to your usual routines and rules around screen time, including no screen time before bed! If you’re going to allow additional screen time during breaks, try to incorporate it earlier in the day.

Stay Connected
Adolescence is marked by the increasing importance of friendships, but holidays with family Encourage face-to-face gatherings, but also allow space for your teen to actively connect with their friends online, whether that’s through video chatting, texting, gaming, or active communication on social media. Establish ground rules early to make sure this time is limited and balanced with time for family and other activities.

Motivational Interview Activity
Motivational interviews are conversations that can help children understand their own motivations for change. Having these conversations can help children find their own reasons for reducing screen time and engaging in other activities. When talking to kids about screen time, practice your OARS skills: open ended questions, affirm a child’s experience, reflect out-loud on what a child says, summarize their reflections.

Children and Screens would like to acknowledge the contributions of the following experts through its webinars, Guidelines for Parents, and Tips for Parents columns.
Jessica Hartshorn, Parents
Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, PhD, Temple University, Brookings Institution
Laura Markham, PhD, Aha! Parenting
Juliana Miner, MPH, George Mason University
Martin Paulus, MD, Laureate Institute for Brain Research
Arlene Pellicane, MA, author
Larry Rosen, PhD, California State University, Dominguez Hills
Yalda Uhls, PhD, University of California, Los Angeles
Since its inception in 2013, Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development has become one of the nation’s leading non-profit organizations dedicated to advancing and supporting interdisciplinary scientific research, informing and educating the public, advocating for sound public policy for child health and wellness, and enhancing human capital in the field. As public educators in the field, we provide policymakers summaries of research findings and compelling evidence about the cognitive, psychosocial, emotional, physical, and behavioral impacts of digital media use in infancy, toddlerhood, childhood, and adolescence.

For more information or to speak with a Children and Screens expert, please contact Jon Bleicher at Prospect PR [[email protected], 973.330.1711]

Source: Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development

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