How to manage screen time for kids this summer

Experts say limit screen time, encourage kids to get active as pandemic improves

Children have spent a lot of time looking at screens while at home throughout the pandemic, but with summer upon us now, it's important to help the kids stay active and off their devices.

With the pandemic keeping so many kids at home and requiring them to attend school online, the use of computers and digital devices has gone through the roof.

For the better part of the last year, many children have been learning through a computer screen, and spending more time on screens recreationally, as well. Now, even with summertime upon us and Michigan beginning to return to normal, it may be tough for some children to break their screen time habits.

Experts say that getting the kids to put down the devices might come down to forming new habits as a family.

Digital wellness consultant Katey McPherson says getting children involved in activities, like summer camps or scheduling summertime chores, is a good way to start. Experts also recommend setting limits for screen time for your children, and involving them in those conversations.

Related: Another COVID side effect: Many kids head to summer school

McPherson says even if you ease up on some things during the summer months, it’s important to keep the rules for cellphones and tablets in place.

“No devices in the bedroom or bathroom, and sleep is essential,” McPherson said. “Even though it’s the summer and they get to stay up later to play video games, we’re still taking the devices and putting them on a central charging station.”

Officials say that parents and guardians should be aware of the example they are setting when around the kids. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that if adults cut back on screen time, kids are more likely to follow suit.

“I have to be really careful about dedicated and protected time,” McPherson said. “No phone at the dinner table, no phone after 9 p.m., and (I keep it) off my nightstand. You have to be a good role model.”

And try to keep in mind -- not all screen time is the same. Be aware of the content that the kids are consuming, and the connections that they are making when on their devices.

McPherson recommends that children over 12 years old spend less than two hours per day scrolling the internet or playing video games. For kids under 12, she recommends they spend no more than one hour on their devices.

Watch the video above for the full report.

Related: Parents learning how to talk to children about digital use, screen time

About the Author:

Hank Winchester is Local 4's Consumer Investigative Reporter and the head of WDIV's "Help Me Hank" Consumer Unit. He works to solve consumer complaints, reveal important recalls and track down thieves who have ripped off metro Detroiters.