Hudson Valley Parent

HVP May 2015

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30 Hudson Valley Parent ■ May 2015 like social media. Holding a family meeting is a great way to set up ex- pectations — for kids and parents. 17 screen-free activities During your family meeting, brainstorm things to do instead of your usual screen time. This list bro- ken up by time of day or activity can get you started. Afterschool: 1. Play outside. Ride bikes, shoot hoops, blow bubbles, play tag or hide and seek, or run races. 2. Hold a scavenger hunt. Make a list of items you might fi nd in your yard or neighborhood and work in teams or as one group to fi nd them. 3. Draw or do an art project (no need to check Pinterest for inspira- tion). 4. Daydream. Flop on the ground and watch the clouds or snuggle up inside on a rainy day. Let your mind wander and wonder. Mealtime: 5. Take turns telling "I remember when" stories about when kids were younger or when parents were kids. 6. Begin with gratitude or highs and lows. Each person takes a turn saying something they are thank- ful for or sharing the high and low points of their day. Give some thought about how you want to approach screen use when Screen Free Week is over. If you kicked off the week with a family meeting, you may want to end the week with another one to talk about what was hard and what was enjoyable for each person. Then consider these tips as you set new parameters for family screen use: 1. Remember that technology is a tool As an occupation therapist and mom, Susan Schenk encourages parents not to feel guilty about screen time. Instead, she suggests parents show how their children how to use technology to access information, learn, and communi- cate well. "Let kids use software that en- courages creation of art or music. Then share their creations with family members who are far away. For kids who struggle with writing, encourage them to email a grand- parent or friend who doesn't live nearby. This gives purpose to the writing while using technology as a tool." 2. Own the technology Schenk recommends controlling electronic devices for as long as possible to allow you to choose how they are used. Devices can be tools or treats, instead of the go-to entertainment. If your children already have electronic devices, coming back from Screen-Free Week is a great time to re-establish limits on use. 3. Choose when to use As you begin using devices again, consider setting limits on when they are used. For example, no screens at the table or outside play before video games or no checking email before breakfast. 4. Model good habits on and o screen Think about what technology habits you want for your kids and about your own use. If you want your kids to put down their devices and interact with your family, start by putting yours away. Schenk adds, "If you want your kids out- side more, go out together for 15 minutes (you'll likely be out longer)." Screen-savvy tips for the entire family SWITCHING OFF (Continued from Page 28)

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