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Our Suggestions for a Screen-Free Summer

Our Suggestions for a Screen-Free Summer

I was having dinner in a restaurant in Cascais last week and spotted, at one of the tables near the window, a student from IPS, enjoying their meal and chatting with their family. No phones were on the table. There wasn't an ipad in sight. They were investing in their special family time and it was a joy to see: each person around that table was feeling happy, relaxed and valued. No one had their nose to a screen. 

If you want to survive the summer holidays, but don't want your children to become slaves to the internet or turn into blue-light zombies by September, here are some tips and tricks to help your family cut down on screen time:

#1 HOW TO AVOID TOO MUCH SCREEN TIMEI

  1. Make bedrooms "no screen zones". Children who have TVs in their rooms tend to watch about 1.5 hours more TV per day than those who don't. Move televisions, computers, tablets, etc. into shared family spaces.
  2. Designate one or more days per week as "screen-free" days, where physical activity, reading and spending quality time together are prioritised.
  3. Turn off electronic devices during dinner. Make use of the time together to talk about the day
  4. Be a good role model and limit your time in front of a screen to no more than two hours per day, too. If your children see you following your own rules and being active, then they'll be more likely to follow your example.
  5. Make it a game! Place activity ideas in a jar. Whenever the family would typically be on electronic devices, pull an idea out of the jar instead and do it together.
  6. Try new hobbies. Replace screen time with something more active, join a club or discover a new talent.
  7. Avoid using electronic devices as a reward or punishment. This makes screens seem even more important. 

#2 HOW TO MONITOR WHAT YOUR CHILDREN ARE SEEING ONLINE

We all know the dangers of unmonitored screen time and as the summer holidays are fast approaching, so are the potential dangers of our children being exposed to inappropriate online material. It is so important that you, as parents, know exactly what your children are watching online. If you know that sometimes you give your child the freedom to search for anything they are curious about or watch whatever they wish on YouTube, then you might want to think about installing a parental control app.  

There are many available these days and as you research the one that works the best for your needs, consider their features in your decision: do you need simple monitoring of screen time or do you want the app to watch for content searches you would deem inappropriate or dangerous? 

Parental control apps are also designed to help with the broader goals of better time management, more family time and less screen time. NetNanny, Kaspersky Safe Kids, OurPact, Eyezy, GoogleFamilyLink, Norton Family and Qustodia are all reputable applications. Time would be well spent researching each one so you can decide which fits your needs best. 

#3 GET LOST IN A BOOK!

Having story time at home each day and making it a regular habit is one of the best things you can do for your child if they are in EYFS or Key Stage 1. It helps cultivate active listening, gives them a head start on language skills, reduces screen time and makes them much more likely to pick up the habit of reading. Below is a list of our favourites!
 

Our favourite books for Key Stages 1 - 3

For Key Stage 1:

  • The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr
  • The Little Red Hen by Henriette Barklow
  • Oliver's Vegetables by Vivian French
  • The King of Tiny Things by Jeanne Willis
  • The Man on the Moon by Simon Bartram
  • The Way Back Home by Oliver Jeffers
  • Dear Teacher by Amy Husband
  • Katie Morag by Mairi Hedderwick 
  • A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond
  • George's Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl
  • World's Worst Children 1 & 2 by David Walliams

For Key Stage 2:

  • James and the Giant Peach; Fantastic Mr Fox; The Twits; Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator; The Witches, all by Roald Dahl
  • The Artemis Fowl Series by Eoin Colfer
  • Anything written by Michael Morpurgo
  • The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham
  • The Alex Rider Books and The Diamond Brothers Series by Anthony Horowitz
  • The Narnia Chronicles by C.S.Lewis
  • The series of "Accidental" books by Tom McLaughlin
  • The Horrible Histories series by Terry Deary
  • Kings and Queens by Tony Robinson
  • Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson
  • Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb
  • Gansta Granny by David Walliams
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
  • Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

For Key Stage 3:

  • His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman
  • The Box of Delights by John Masefield
  • Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman
  • Twelve Minutes to Midnight by Christopher Edge
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  • Framed by Frank Cottrell-Boyce
  • Cue for Treason by Geoffery Trease
  • Freedom (1783) by Catherine Johnson
  • Can You See Me? by Libby Scott and Rebecca Westcott
  • Robin Hood: Hacking, Heists and Flaming Arrows by Robert Muchamore
  • The Cay by Theodore Taylor
  • The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 and ¾ by Sue Townsend
  • A Pocket Full of Rye by Agatha Christie
  • The Jungle Book by Kipling
  • The Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth

Enjoy a great summer, whether your children are active in the great outdoors, making sandcastles, riding skateboards (or waves!) or relaxing with a good book. 

written by Charlotte Nash

Deputy head - Pastoral & Wellbeing