The other day I was stunned by a news report I saw on TV. It described a month-long camp where parents can send their kids to unplug when they’ve become addicted to screen time. What?!

The story went on to describe the many adverse effects too much screen time has on children. According to the report, it can negatively affect their emotional, social, physical, and intellectual development.

Stop for a moment and consider all the technologies that have swooped into our lives over the past couple of decades. While these technologies bring many benefits, they also cause today’s parents to encounter tough issues that we never had to face when we raised our own children.

As grandparents, we play a big part in helping parents find balance in today’s high-tech world. When grandkids come to visit, here are a few unplugging ideas to consider.

Set Limits and Be Consistent

Screen time isn’t inherently evil. But it’s our role to team up with parents and help children learn to use technology in a healthy manner. This begins with establishing rules and sticking to them.

It’s probably unrealistic to completely ban screen time when grandchildren visit, but you can set limits according to age. The American Academy of Pediatrics offers excellent guidelines in this area.

Create Tech-Free Areas

Numerous studies show that screen time before going to bed often interferes with children’s sleep. It’s best to avoid technology during the hour prior to bedtime and to keep screens out of the bedroom altogether.

Mealtime is another excellent time to keep tech-free. Years from now, children probably won’t remember how many points they earned in their latest video game. But they will remember the fun conversations they had with their grandparents around the kitchen table.

Educate Yourself

Many classes are available – both online and in person – to teach you all about the apps, games, and other technologies your grandchildren are exposed to these days. By understanding the technology kids are interested in, you can help them make positive choices.

The classes will also teach you about safety and privacy issues. If you know what to watch for, you can help protect your grandchildren from online predators and other dangers.

Offer Alternatives

Before your grandchildren come to visit, be prepared with alternative activities. Consider books, games, crafts, community events, cooking/baking, or outdoor activities.

Yes, your grandchildren might fuss a bit when you ask them to unplug. But, in the end, you’ll leave them with the gift of wonderful memories.

Be a Good Role Model

We tell our grandchildren to put away the technology. But then they see us continuously glancing at our smartphones. Or they always see the TV playing in the background when they come to our house.

This sends mixed messages and increases the possibility that grandchildren will balk at your rules. So, do yourself and your grandchildren a favor by setting limits on your own screen time, too.

Resist the Urge to Buy

We all enjoy giving our grandchildren gifts. We want to be fun grandparents. And we love to see their excitement when our grandchildren receive something they’ve been asking for.

That being said, grandchildren rarely need the latest, greatest, and most expensive gadget that just came out. Instead, let’s give them gifts that promote imagination and creativity – gifts that last a lifetime.

What fun activities do you do with your grandkids? What are some favorite ways to unplug from everyday technology? Please share in the comments below.

Let's Have a Conversation!