How to Get Kids Off Screens And Outside This Summer

May 25, 2021

Swap lazy days of summer with healthy outdoor play.

Families resorted to screen time (lots of it) over the past year for practical reasons. But with looser restrictions this summer, it’s time for a reset. “The fact that kids have essentially become indoor creatures is not normal or healthy,” says Dr. David Greenfield, clinical psychologist and medical director for the Center for Internet & Technology Addiction. “The most damaging part of screen time other than the neurological and psychological changes it creates,” he adds, “is that it eats up so much time.”

Time that could be better spent exploring the world, getting fresh air and exercise, and spending quality time with friends and family, adds pediatrician Dr. Mary Feilmeier. As schools let out in the coming weeks, make a plan to beat summer boredom without resorting to screens with these pro tips.

1. Remember that boredom has its benefits.

2. Eat outdoors as often as possible.

“Everything tastes better outside.” says Yurich. Eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner al fresco, even if it means grabbing a picnic basket and heading to a local park. “I’m motivated to try new snacks for our hikes and we even attempt to cook outside when we can,” says Yurich. “And often, an outdoor summer meal will turn into other outdoor fun like observing ants after breakfast, a game of catch after lunch, or a board game on a picnic blanket after dinner.”

3. Change your scenery.

4. Make a summer bucket list.

5. Schedule regular play dates.

It’s easy to lose touch with friends over the summer, especially if you have an introverted kid, but encouraging play dates can also inspire activities that are good for their health and socialization. “Physical exercise is the opportunity to have face-to-face social interactions, and to experience the world in real-time instead of through a two-dimensional screen,” says Dr. Greenfield. Give kids the gift of real friendship by keeping in touch with neighbors, your pod, and good friends. “The ability to experience life in the moment is not experienced on a screen,” he adds, “it's by walking out into the world.”