As much as you’d love to put the kibosh on screen time for your family until New Year’s, it’s not always the most realistic thing to do, especially with travel, long family dinners, and—frankly—the need for a bit of individual down time. Still, you can suggest healthy swaps for your kids to download while they’re on break. So, they only use them until school re-starts again in 2019. That’s OK. It’s all about getting them to open up their minds…and let go of some of those addictive (read: time wasting) apps.
Delete: Fortnite. Install: Day One Journal
Basically a Battle Royale, Fortnite is a fight-to-the-death multi-player game that is leaving kids consumed…and parents concerned. A healthy (even if it’s for-the-holidays-only) swap? Encourage your kids to test out Day One Journal, an app that allows you to chronicle your days (plus, photos) even if all you have time to jot down is a sentence. The pros: A gorgeous interface, the option to password-protect your content and the idea that it’s OK to “post” what you did in a space that’s just for you versus sharing on social media with a goal of getting likes. (Although that is an option if you want it to be.) Did I mention that journaling is on par with meditation and teaches your kids to reflect and appreciate the little moments of their lives?
Delete: Instagram. Install: Headspace
Alas, we’ve reached that point: Instagram is…out. Don’t get me wrong—I love a gorgeous flat lay of tech products as much as the next person, but encouraging kids to take a break from a world told through filters isn’t a bad idea. After all, scrolling through that day in and day out makes adults feel bad about themselves. (Just imagine what kids are internalizing!) An alternative: Suggest that everyone in your household download Headspace, a guided meditation app, then set a challenge for a daily practice. It’s all about teaching kids to harness their thoughts and set an intention for every day that’s un-clouded by those around them. The best part? Headspace makes meditation less hokey and more attainable, thanks to a 10-day beginner’s course (aka the exact length of your holiday vacation) that will guide your kids through the essentials. The goal: Helping your kids find—and appreciate—a sense of self.
Delete: Snapchat. Visit: The Learning Network
Red alert: Snapchat (as in the social media platform with that adorable tongue wagging puppy filter) is the place where kids are going to get their news. A little disconcerting? Yep, which is why it’s worth exposing them to The Learning Network, a (used-to-be app) news website from The New York Times that takes the top headlines of the day and re-packages them to better engage teens and tweens. Genius? I think so. Kids can peep the site to read news summaries, but also take quizzes, complete crossword puzzles, learn a new word of the day and more. Not a bad way to spend a holiday break.
Delete: Candy Crush. Install: Quizlet or Study Blue
For kids (and adults), Candy Crush is just another time-wasting app. Recommend they replace it with Quizlet or Study Blue, both apps that help make studying fun. OK, OK, I know what you’re thinking: Study…on vacation? There’s something about both of these apps that makes the experience low-stress and engaging. Quizlet, for example, offers study sets on every single subject under the sun—from Chinese Dynasties to Foundations of Grammar—while Study Blue does the same, offering more than 400 million flash cards and study guides from actual students who put them to the test. So, if your kids are struggling in a subject, both apps offer a way they can improve their academic edge on the fly.