As parents, we can look forward to summer as a time with lighter schedules, less structure and no homework. Let’s face it — we all need a break, and these warm, carefree days give us the perfect opportunity. However, too many lazy days can result in the well-worn phrase “I’m bored.” Today’s kids have so much technology at their fingertips — TV, movies, video games, the internet — that it can take some special effort to get them engaged in a wider variety of activities, activities that are important to keeping them “mentally fit”.
Studies have shown that playing video games and watching television increase over the summer months. Generally, internet use also increases significantly over summer. Although television, videos games and the internet can provide unstructured downtime, there are negatives that come from too much of these types of activities.
The American Academy of Children and Adolescent Psychology reports that children who watch 3 to 4 hours of TV a day, will have spent more time in front of the television than they have in the classroom by the time they reach high school graduation. These kids exercise less, are more likely to be overweight, read fewer books and have lower grades in school.
The patterns of childhood establish lifelong habits, and as parent, it’s our responsibility to help our kids make healthy choices. So while there are fun and educational television programs and video games available, be sure to monitor their intake and encourage their participation in other activities. Summer days are a wonderful time to enjoy new hobbies, discover new talents and fill the days with plenty of open-ended, creative opportunities.
Founder and CEO of Young Rembrandts and Author of Being Visual