Jeremy Edge, LPC
Holiday Screen Time: Managing Healthy Screen Use This Holiday Season
The holiday season is upon us. Thanksgiving was great, but now it’s time to open presents and celebrate a new year! That means kids are out of school, visits with extended family and friends, and lots of delicious food. The holiday’s have the potential to improve relationships, relax, and gain a few pounds.
Navigating healthy screen time can be a challenge during this season. Here are some thoughts to help you and your family make the most of this time of the year.
Family Time and Screen Time
We usually spend time with extended family during the holidays. With that comes heated arguments with your aunt about politics, weird discussions about bath salts with your cousin, and high energy conversations with your niece about what she’s doing over spring break.
With the increase time with family, it will be important to be mindful of our screen use. We don’t have to lock up our phones the entire season. But making it a point to not be on devices during time with family can help improve everyone’s conversations and relationships.
When we are playing a board game, eating at dinner, or just casually talking with each other, we should respect others and not be on our devices. There can be designated time to use screens. Just not when it’s getting in the way of relationships.
It will be helpful to discuss mindful screen use with our kids. They should put their devices away when it’s time to be with family. They need to know what your expectation is rather than getting mad at them for being on their phone when they’re talking with grandpa.
Time to Use Devices
Focus on having a healthy screen time balance. After a big meal and everyone is napping or in a turkey-induced coma, it’s okay to check how the holidays are going on Instagram. When it looks like everyone is content and just resting, we can use that time to use our devices.
No matter if you are hosting or being hosted, it’s important to be mindful of our screen use to make the most of our time with family during the holidays.
Healthy Screen Use With Additional Time
It’s easy to increase screen time during the holidays. Our kids are off from school and we don’t have to go in the office as much. It’s okay to spend some extra time online. We have time off and should enjoy it. Screens can help us enjoy time off.
If you feel your child won’t abuse the extra time, it’s okay to allow our kids to spend a little more time online than during a normal school week. But don’t allow them spend to spend unlimited time online.
If they like to play video games, they could spend another 30 minutes to an hour playing with friends. Or if your teen enjoys texting and using social media. It’s okay if they increase their use by the same time.
The extra time should stop if your child engages in the follow behaviors…
• Unwilling or unable to get off device when time is up.
• Disrespectful behavior (i.e. yelling, throwing a tantrum, mean tone) when device use stops.
• More disengaged than normal during offline activities
• Constantly asking when they can get back on their device.
If your child engages in these behaviors, limiting use will be helpful.
Encourage your child to engage in another activity. They can read a book, play a board game, do something in the community they usually can’t do because they are in school, do a craft or project. There are many things your child can do that’s engaging and fun that’s outside of screens.
Using Screens for Good
We can use screens to help engage with each other this holiday season. Utilize social media to organize and meet up with friends. Use Facebook Groups to see do something fun and meet new people. Find fun things to do in the area and do it with the family.
Encourage your kids to do the same. Let them make plans with their friends to go to the Escape Room or a bounce house. Use screens to plan a fun event and do it.
Screens can be used to help with a project or craft. YouTube has an endless number of videos to help you do any craft or project you want. Explore fun crafts and do them this holiday with friends and family. Learning how to make a bird house has never been easier thanks to your local Lowes and YouTube.
Enjoy this holiday. Use screens to improve relationships, learn something new, or explore a skill. Be mindful of how your devices can add to rather than take away from this once a year holiday.