Parents in Action: Unplugging over the summer

If you are a parent over 30, chances are as a youngster you spent your summers riding bike freely, stretching your independence with little fear or constraints from your parents. Now, with the advent of the Internet and being connected anywhere, most kids are yearning to spend more time indoors playing with video games, on the computer or texting. Although it's what they want, it may not be what's best for them. The big issue is that as social beings, children desperately need to practice communicating face to face. Without that opportunity, their social development is stunted, which may have implications academically and professionally as they become adults.

Regardless of this generational gap, your kids can still learn to disconnect from technology and enjoy time with each other and in the great outdoors.

Unplug yourself.
Kids learn more from what you do than what you say. So while you're on vacation, out at dinner or just hanging by the pool this summer disconnect from your phone, iPad and enjoy your time around the kids.

Plan Ahead
If your family is traveling this summer, plan offline activities that relate to where you're going. This will help avoid lost time watching T.V. in the hotel. Whether it's down the street or around the world, there are always unplugged activities. If you're having difficulty find good activities and tours while on vacation, contact local visitors bureaus.

Get Outdoors
Devote 30 minutes every day to getting outside with the kids this summer. You can do anything you want from creating an outdoor fort to flying a kite to making a paint can banjo. For some great outdoor activities read Imagine Childhood by Sarah Olmstead.

Be flexible.
So no one feels completely out of touch, once a week plan something media-related that you can all do together. Have a family movie night, play Wii or schedule a time when everyone can check email or text a friend. (Set a timer!)

No matter what you decide to do together, time spent unplugged from technology and plugged into family will be beneficial for everyone.

Sources:
TBParenting.com
CommonSenseMedia.org
CampWaldenNY.com

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