401.331.1244 info@jcsri.org

Yes, school is out for the summer, and your kids want to be entertained 24/7, but you are still working. You may enroll them in a day camp or plan playdates at friends’ houses, but that only takes a few hours during the day. Then they return home and are glued to their screens (tablet, phone, TV, video games and social media) for the rest of the night.

Screens can be beneficial in small doses for FaceTime chats with relatives or educational games. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says children spend an average of 7 hours a day on “entertainment media”. The pandemic has increased our dependency on screens. Pre-COVID, 6 out of 10 parents said their children spent no more than 3 hours on devices. By August 2020, it is estimated that 7 out of 10 kids spent at least 4 hours on screens. The AAP website has a Family Media Plan that parents can create and even calculate the time during the day for physical activity, sleep, and other categories.

The following are recommendations for screen time by age from the AAP:

  • Under 18 months should NOT engage in screen time.
  • 18-24 months: use screen time for high-quality educational programming, and parents should be encouraged to watch it
  • Children older than 2 years: limit screen use to a maximum of 1 hour or less per day of high-quality programming.
  • Teens should have no more than two hours of recreational screen time per day.

The World Health Organization recommends that parents cap their child’s screen time to 2 hours daily. This may become more difficult for tweens and teenagers, who spend more time in front of the screen and become more independent. An example of a reasonable limit would be not allowing screens during the weekdays and then 1 hour on Saturday and Sunday for video games. It may be hard to set limits if your children always see you attached to your phones. Put down the phones and shut off notifications at mealtimes.

Some final tips on screen time: Talk about screen time rules, and the whys and consequences as a family. It is important that your kids know why there are limits so they can understand even if they don’t like it. Apps such as Apple’s screen time feature and Android’s Google Family Link are helpful. Utilize outdoor apps such as those for stargazing, scavenger hunts, or birdwatching.

Speaking of being outside, there are many benefits of being outside in nature. Studies have shown that being outdoors in green space can improve your mood and overall well-being and support resilience and healing. Being outdoors helps them socialize, problem-solve, understand their bodies better, engage in imaginative play, and enjoy the outdoors. School-aged children need about 3 hours of outdoor play each day! Unstructured physical activity reduces weight-related concerns and helps kids sleep better at night. It can increase concentration and improve mood the next day. By engaging in physical and mental activities, parents can support their child’s growth to handle stress better, strengthen social interactions, and develop critical thinking skills.

What is the next step now that you have them off the screens and outside? Plan that Summer Bucket List. What should go on there? Fun new places, exciting new adventures, or simple moments shared with family. Not every list has to involve an extreme experience, but it should help you find joy in the small things. Look for free activities around your town. Pinterest has a lot of great suggestions. KOA (Kampgrounds of America) recommends these as Top 20 Ideas: Visit the Ocean, Go For a Swim, Gaze at the Stars, Try White Water Rafting, Take a Road Trip, BBQ Some New Recipes, Splash at a Water Park, Take a Family Photo, Pick Fruit, Detox from Technology, Watch An Outdoor Movie, Attend a Festival, Enjoy a Cozy Campfire, Ride a Roller Coaster, Enjoy Some Ice Cream, Hike a New Trail, Explore a National Park, Read a New Book, Learn Something New, Go Kayaking.

Whatever you decide, spend quality time and make great memories with your kids!

While keeping children active and engaged is crucial, it’s also important to recognize when they might need additional support. If your child is struggling with behavioral issues, anxiety, or any other emotional challenges, professional counseling can provide the help they need. The Counseling Center at JCS provides child and family counseling services, offering expert guidance to help families navigate these difficulties and promote healthy development. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you feel your child could benefit from additional support—early intervention can make a significant difference in their well-being. Email JCS at Info@jcsri.org or call our office at 401.331.1244


Hayes, Kelly (2022). Summer Screen Time for Kids: How Much is Too Much? Tips for Setting Limits. FOX TV Digital Team.

Kham, Kim (2023). How to Keep Kids Busy During Summer. University of Texas Physicians, https://www.utphysicians.com

KOA (2024). Top 20 Summer Bucket List Ideas. Kampgrounds of America.

Lockwood, Katie (2024). The Benefits of Outdoor Play: Why It Matters.  Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

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