CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — The school year will soon come to an end, and summer is just around the corner. With many families still working from home, trying to manage screen time for kids can be a challenge. As Southern Utah’s “Internet People,” the experts at InfoWest offer a few practical tips to help parents navigate summer device usage.
“We’ve had an influx of parents connect with us trying to prepare for the upcoming battle of summer screen time usage,” said Catherine Larson, director of marketing for InfoWest.
Create a technology use plan
Does your household have a technology use plan in place? Do you use parental controls to manage internet usage or device time? If not, now is the time to explore these resources to help keep kids safe online.
Before summer comes, Larson recommends creating a family technology use plan or a set of rules. InfoWest has also made it easier than ever for parents to manage technology use with the Connect Plus app. The app allows users to manage all of their family’s connected devices, set screen time limits and turn off the internet.
Set screen time expectations
Sit down as a family and discuss what’s expected – and allowed – when it comes to screen time over the summer. Larson suggests striking a balance between productive activities and leisure time for kids. Perhaps it’s doing chores or summer schoolwork before watching a movie. Prior to playing video games, it may be reading a book or exercising for an hour.
“Whatever you decide, make sure everyone understands what’s expected of them before device use,” she said.
Balance active and passive screen time
Using devices isn’t always a bad thing for kids, Larson said, adding that there’s a difference between active and passive screen time. To maintain a healthy balance of productive technology use, try introducing YouTube videos, TV shows and websites that are both informative and entertaining.
Active screen time is when kids are using technology to engage in educational or learning activities. Passive screen time is the opposite – for example, zoning out with Netflix in the background or aimlessly scrolling through social media.
Don’t worry about perfection
Larson said managing summer screen time is a lot like managing summer mealtime. Parents try to prepare meals that are healthy and balanced, but it doesn’t always work out. Running through the nearest drive-thru or ordering pizza delivery is sometimes as good as it gets, and you don’t have to be perfect about technology use either.
“Even with the best-laid plans and preparations, life happens,” she said. “Be forgiving. It’s OK to binge-watch once in a while.”
InfoWest also provides managed router services to residential internet customers, which can be combined with the ConnectPlus app for added convenience and safety. InfoWest keeps each router secure by automatically providing security updates as they become available. Customers also have the ability to observe what’s going in and out of their network and watch for suspicious activity, along with setting up age-appropriate content filtering for individual devices.
“ConnectPlus with managed router services allows parents to easily set different profiles for kids of all ages,” said Jeff Ferrin, support operations manager for InfoWest. “Different ages need different permissions and requirements.”
With screen time being an inevitable part of daily modern life, make it a point to engage the whole family in activities that take them away from their devices – including parents. Get outside and go for a bike ride, play basketball or take a weekend vacation. Summer is filled with opportunities to make new memories together.
Learn more about InfoWest’s products, services and community outreach on their website.
Written by ALEXA MORGAN for St. George News.
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