What are the true effects of screen time on our children? How does extended time away at summer camp help with our kids’ emotional well-being?
Before we dive in, check out this video on ways to unplug our kids from technology.
The true effects of screen time
I recently read an NPR Article entitled Kids and Screen Time: What Does The Research Say?. It was interesting. They took two groups of sixth graders. One group spent 5 days at an outdoor camp without screens, and the other lived life as usual (with screens).
So what did they find? Researchers found that the students who went to camp (no screens) scored significantly higher when it came to reading facial emotions or other nonverbal cues than the students who continued to have access to their media devices.
We found that the kids who had been to camp without any screens but with lots of those opportunities and necessities for interacting with other people in person improved significantly more. – Patricia Greenfield
Extended time away at Summer camp…
The American Camping Association , of which Camp Huawni is a member, is doing more research on the impact of unplugging our kids from technology. So practically, how does summer camp help with our childrens’ emotional well being? Recently I wrote a blog entitled Kids’ Emotional & Social Health & How Summer Camp Helps. As it pertains to unplugging from technology, here are a few ways that extended time away at summer camp can help.
- Leads to less stress (i.e. constantly checking their phone and worrying about what a friend or bully is saying online)
- Encourages independent thinking (they are living in the reality of camp and are autonimous is decision making, etc.)
- The more kids are away from screens, they more they are working their social skill muscles (meeting new friends, asking questions, spending time face to face with people they enjoy)
- Kids learn to appreciate not being on their phone/screen (many parents have told me personally that this is the effect of camp when their camper comes home)
How much is too much?
How much is too much when it comes to screen time? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 2 hours per day for children ages 3-18 and zero screen time for children under 2. The later part of this recommendation was really eye-opening for me.
So until our children are completed unplugged at Summer camp, what can we do to reduce screen time? First, let me say that I have limited experience as a parent, and I have failed a lot at adequately unplugging my kiddos. However, here are a couple simple ways I have found to unplug my kids from technology.
In almost every case, unplugging our kids from technology has led to more fun, more engagement and lasting memories for our family.
First, write a bucket list of things you’d enjoy with your kids that don’t involve screen time. This was a great recommendation from my dear friend and mentor, Chris White. This last week my boys and I blazed a trail through the woods to a spot we’ll soon make into a fire pit. Secondly, remember that not all technology or screen time is a bad thing. Use screen time for something productive and beneficial for your child. We recently installed a great app on our phones call Khan Academy Kids. This has been a great learning tool to replace the next cartoon or mindless episode of PJ Mask.
In almost every case, unplugging our kids from technology has led to more fun, more engagement, and lasting memories for our family. So give it a try, start small, and give your child the gift of less screen time. Once they get to Camp, we will take care of the rest.