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June 24, 2019

Save Your Summer with Tech Guidelines for Teens

Summertime.  I can’t wait! Those lazy unstructured days of freedom.  No bedtimes. Lots of beach days. Tons of friends in and out.  And oh yeah, plenty of time for cell phones.

I hold some pretty middle-of-the-road cell phone beliefs.  No cell phones at the table. No cell phones when you are hanging out with your friends.  No cell phones during school hours.

During the year, when my kids are busy with school and dance and art and theater, there is precious little time to be zoned out on their phones for more than a few minutes in the car.  

But over the summer, there is all that freedom and lack of structure that I mentioned.  And my kids tend to want to fill a lot of it with their cell phones. And tablets. And laptops.   And I am not okay with that. While I believe that some of the uses of technology are great to help you learn and grow, there are plenty of other uses that provide absolutely no value and should be limited.

In an attempt to keep their summer free and unstructured, I decided not to implement technology “rules” or “tracking”, but technology “guidelines”.  A way for my beliefs about useless technology usage to be honored while letting my kids be in charge of how they spend their time.

In my house, I have asked that  85% of their awake day spent on things that help them grow.  Activities like being out in nature, creating, doing something physical, taking care of themselves and others, engaging with friends, learning, and just being.   This would be ten hours per day, five which can be spent using technology and five that are spent without.

Some of the ways I encourage them to use technology are …

  • Using a drawing app
  • Making a video
  • Coding
  • Writing
  • Taking an online class
  • Facetime with a friend
  • Talking to a friend on the phone
  • Watching a movie or TV show with friends or family
  • Exploring on a topic that interests them (videos, articles, groups),
  • Playing brain games
  • Listening to music

And so I don’t have to hear “I’m bored”, I have made suggestions for how they can spend their technology-free time …

  • Going for a walk
  • Going to the beach club
  • Doing art on paper
  • Journaling
  • Singing
  • Acting
  • Dancing
  • Crafts
  • Building projects
  • Walking or hiking
  • Swimming
  • Cooking
  • Organizing their room
  • Getting together with friends
  • Writing to their penpal
  • Reading a book
  • Taking a class
  • Playing a game
  • Doing a puzzle

The other 15% of their day, which equates to about two hours, can be spent on activities that do not provide any growth value like social media, most games and YouTube videos, and watching TV shows alone in their room.

I also ask that before they pick up any technology that they …

  • Make their bed
  • Get dressed (unless it is an agreed pajama day)
  • Eat breakfast and clean up
  • Straighten their rooms
  • Take care of any laundry

And, I have tried to get them into the habit of asking “What else could I be doing?” before they absentmindedly pick up their phone.

These guidelines have been a win-win for me and my daughters and if you adapt them to your own beliefs about technology they can be a win-win for your family too!

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Elyse Hudacsko  |  Contribution: 2,010