Photo Credit: Kevin Sousa Photography
With the hockey season over and the equipment put away there is suddenly a lot more free time on the evening schedule for kids. This extra time is likely being spent in front of some sort of screen. Whether video games, phones or tablets there are endless possibilities that have become a part of our everyday lives.
Every household has their own set of rules for how they use screens. Many parents don’t allow screens at the dinner table which allows for time together as a family. It can sometimes feel like an uphill battle – your kids often know more about their devices than you do and always seem to find a way to sneak in a few extra minutes online.
Screentime should be viewed as a reward once all other responsibilities are completed. Here are some other ideas on how to approach putting a limit on screentime during the off-season.
The off-season is the exactly that – time away from hockey. It is the perfect time to try a new activity and pick up on a hobby. You never know, your child could possibly find a new passion just as much as they love hockey. Playing a different sport prevents physical and mental burnout and keeps the excitement to return to the rink building over the summer. Whether it’s something as simple as free play or something more structured, if the day is filled with more activities they will have less time to spend in front of a screen.
For players that want to stay active during the summer and work on their hockey skills at the same time look no further than the OMHA Players Club presented by HockeyShot. There are three different skill-building challenges to dive into and are all a great distraction from screens. These challenges give kids a goal to work towards. There are suggested guidelines within each challenge that set time frames and targets for each day.
The most obvious solution is to limit how much children spend in front of screens. This can be up for interpretation - maybe only a certain amount of time can be used on different devices. Parents can designate ‘no screen’ times where everyone has to find a different activity to do, including yourself. Setting time limits gives the child the responsibility of deciding how and what they want to use their time on. Keeping screens out of the bedroom can help creating positive sleeping patterns.
Instead of counting the hours on a screen, redirect the focus on to what is being consumed. Is the content educational? There is lots to learn from video and articles online instead of going down another viral video rabbit hole on YouTube. That being said, not all screens or apps are evil. There are many designed to help ‘teach’ the brain skills like problem-solving. Identifying which apps can be engaging in a healthy way and encouraging use of those is another compromise.
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