Being eager about the summer season is a natural, common emotion. There’s nothing like experiencing the bright blue sky, deep green leaves, and endless sunshine. However, all too often in the Electronic Age, kids don’t get the same outdoor activity and restful summer repose that their parents took for granted. It’s easy to spend time looking at computer and television screens instead of discovering fun summer activities for families.
Doing, Doing, Doing
Western culture depends on constant activity. Although relaxation is a big part of why we work, idle time seems somehow wrong, even when on vacation. Researchers have performed studies on why humans feel the need for constant activity. In controlled tests, people were happier when they accomplished something, even for the slightest reason.
Experts believe that compulsion is rooted in evolution. Because survival required constant foraging, many psychologists conclude that the behavior is ingrained. “If idle people remain idle, they are miserable. If idle people become busy, they will be happier.”
However, destructive busyness can be detrimental. In fact, it can manifest itself in physical ailments. Children become anxious, depressed, have headaches, or lose sleep. So, it’s very important for parents to strike a balance between boredom and too much activity. Finding cool summer activities for families is a good start.
Establishing a Healthy Balance Between Freedom, Boredom, and Doing
Depending on your child’s level of maturity, you can help them maintain a healthy balance between activity and rest. Screen time can lead to more problems, so finding a middle ground during the summer is the key.
Age-appropriate guidelines are just that, guidelines, and boredom is not necessarily a bad thing. Spending time alone and recharging is important for healthy development.
Understanding the Importance of Boredom
Overstimulation from electronic devices can have a negative influence on your child’s development. Too much time staring at digital screens leads to depression and anxiety, lower academic performance, and poor sleep.
However, boredom actually helps your brain. It lets you form new thoughts and imagine. Research has confirmed that daydreaming uses the same processes that control imagination and ingenuity. Plus, being bored helps relieve stress in children.
Make Summer Time Fun Time
Your child’s best teacher is you. But they learn better from your actions than your words. Spending time doing summer activities for families demonstrates how important your children are to you. They’ll see your ability to relax, not spend time on the computer, and communicate in the old-fashioned way (face-to-face), and will learn to incorporate those healthy practices in their own lives.
Summer is the perfect time to strengthen the bonds of love that bind your family together. Make eating together a priority. One of the easiest ways to do this is scheduling evening meals without media.
Summer is the perfect time to cut back on screen time and build stronger connections with your kids. A well-balanced one filled with summer activities for families will create lasting memories and support your child’s healthy development.
Anthony Cupo is a Trained Mindfulness Facilitator (TMF) from the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. He is a co-owner of Stepping Forward Counseling Center, LLC and has been meditating for over 30 years.