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Balancing Your Child’s Screen Time During the Holidays

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Parents often express concerns that their children are spending too much time using electronic devices (phones and tablets) during time off school. Here are Tutor Doctor’s tips for balancing your child’s screen time during the holidays!

First off, we know it’s difficult to limit screen time these days – our dependence on modern technology cannot be understated. This has been made even more apparent during the recent months with so many students learning from home while attending school through virtual classrooms. Because so many schools are still adhering to remote or hybrid learning models, students may have assignments or projects that will require online access. So while we can’t expect any of our students to have a “screen-free” holiday break, our best recommendation is to moderate screen time as best you can by providing access to alternative activities during their free time.

Tutor Doctor Tip: On a related note, many students experience difficulties adjusting their sleep schedule once school is back in session. After all, everybody enjoys sleeping in while on vacation! Still, we recommend students start transitioning back to their normal schedules at least a few days before the holiday break is over. A good way to do this is by making sure your child goes to bed at their normal time, and it just so happens that the blue light that is emitted from device screens confuses the body’s natural sleep/wake cycle. We recommend shutting off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bed – and as we always say, reading a book is a much better way to get sleepy!

1. Family activities. Lots of families will find themselves cooped up this winter – even more so than usual due to health restrictions on travel and social gatherings. Although it’s not ideal, try to make the best of it and use this time as a family bonding experience with the people you live with! Bust out some board games and have a “family game night” – this is just one example of an activity that doesn’t require a screen. Arts and crafts are also a blast during the holidays. Photo albums, holiday cards, and scrapbooks are all awesome projects the entire family can participate in while creating lasting memories.

2. Musical instruments. We understand that musical instruments are not immediately accessible to every child, but they are truly worth the investment. Learning to play a musical instrument teaches kids about the benefits of practice and perseverance while also providing a creative outlet to express themselves. Learning to play a musical instrument also has a multitude of cognitive benefits, ranging from increased multitasking ability to improved memory and recall. For more information about how playing musical instruments can strengthen the brain, check out our blog on this topic!

3. Arts and crafts. Although we did mention arts and crafts as a family activity, they are also excellent for children to enjoy independently. Painting, drawing, writing, and photography are all examples of artistic activities that channel positive self expression and emotional development. Any activity that encourages creativity would fall into this category – younger kids often love letting their imagination run wild with LEGOs and building toys!

4. Cooking. The culinary arts are a great way to encourage experimentation while not having to worry much about making a mistake! Baking ingredients are fairly inexpensive, and trying new recipes is half the fun. Cooking with your child has many academic benefits as well – it’s a great way to demonstrate real-world applications of math concepts (like fractions), and following a recipe encourages reading and comprehension practice. Younger children can also join in on the fun with simpler kitchen activities like decorating cookies. So many of us associate the holiday season with delicious family meals, so it’s a perfect time to create some culinary masterpieces with your kids!

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