Longer days and endless sunshine made your summer vacation a dream. Poolside you were able to catch up on the latest books with your e-reader, chat with friends, send snaps of the great seafood and fruit platters – in short, you relaxed and didn’t even realize that you were spending so much time on your digital toys.
And ditto for your children. In between sightseeing and pool time, they spent their free time watching Netflix (counts as screen time and those series can be a real time killer), playing video games, enjoying the latest apps, chatting with friends, texting funny jokes, sharing photos and more.
With all that downtime, your family probably spent more time connected than they usually spend during the school year. Your family is not alone – everyone’s tech habits change on holiday. (Think long train or plane rides without an iPad, DVD player or Nintendo). It’s a natural consequence of vacationing in the 21st century and unless you purposely do a digital detox on vacation, the amount of screen times will increase exponentially.
But there is no reason to panic or to feel guilty. You can transition back to school and back to work in a painless manner:
- Keep the activities going. Just because summer is over doesn’t mean that the fun has to stop. Sure there will be homework and projects for the boss, but be sure to schedule some non-tech related family time. Don’t forget to schedule non-tech couple time as well as non-tech ‘me-only’ time.
- Set your time limits on screen times. Now that school has almost started, it is important to remember the proper place for technology. Education and technology is good, boredom and technology is not. But set appropriate limits and do not eliminate everything. You are weaning down, not shutting off.
- Remember that digital toys are a privilege not a right. Your children may have had unlimited time over the summer, but now schoolwork comes first. And a suitable reward is some downtime with their favorite tech activity. But like any leisure activity, it is to be enjoyed after the work is done.
- Stay involved in your child’s life. A new school year may mean new friends, new activities. What are your children doing online and off? Use The Parent Zone’s WWW approach as a guide when communicating with your children. Who are they talking to? What are they doing online? Where are they going online?
- Be a digital role model. No smart phones at the dinner table. No scrolling on a tablet when your children are talking to you. No texting a work colleague. Family time is family time and should be as tech-free as you can make it.
- Get savvy on internet safety. Continue increasing your own knowledge on Internet safety issues and share the latest with your children. Impart those kernels of wisdom in a non-lecture manner and impress your kids.
And as I always say:
Continue parenting your child in the online world as you do in the offline world – by using your own good common sense and experience. Be supportive, set boundaries, and offer opportunities to explore and develop. You’ve got this!
Learn more from my website: Digital Parenting Coach