Summer media survival tips for parents

Summer media survival tips for parents
Sr Hosea Rupprecht

When I was a kid, my main form of media consumption was books. I used to go to the library and check out four or five ‘Hardy Boys’ books at a time. I don’t know why I never got into Nancy Drew (I am a girl, after all), but I think it’s the fact that Frank and Joe Hardy had access to a speedboat! That’s neither here nor there, but once home, I snuggled into the loveseat in the living room and would read for hours. Finishing the books I borrowed, I was back to the library in less than two weeks. Ensconced on the couch during the summer months but oblivious to the sunshine outside, my mother would tell me, “Get your nose out of a book, go outside and do something constructive!”

I was usually hesitant to put down my book, but once I did, I loved helping my mother in the garden, throwing a frisbee with my father, going to the school grounds around the corner, playing tennis with my brother or walking the 15 minutes it took us to get to our grandparents’ homes.

Parents today may have to give the same admonition to their kids, but it probably goes something like this: “Get your eyes off your phone (or gaming console), go outside and do something constructive!”


In our technology-obsessed world, it’s a challenge for adults to find a good balance between tech-based activities and other stuff. It’s even more difficult for kids whose devices seem to be grafted onto their arms. During the summer months, without school to fill up their kid’s time, parents may find themselves in the same situation my mother found herself in with me. You may ask, “How do I entice my child to put down the device and do something unplugged?”

Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with technology-based activities, such as gaming, scrolling through one’s social media feed or even going to the movies. The key word is balance. During the upcoming summer vacation, if you notice your child glued to a screen, here are a few suggestions.

I remember loving listening to my mother tell me about going camping when she was growing up, or how she first met my father”

Set reasonable time limits for digital interactions. When that time is up, help your child do something creative, such as a painting, outdoor ‘fort’ construction, bike riding or hiking or writing an original mystery story.

As a family, visit at least one person (or group of people) face-to-face during the summer that you’ve been wanting to visit for a while but just couldn’t seem to find the time. When I was young, I always enjoyed going over to my great aunt’s home. I loved listening to her tell stories of when she was a nurse in World War II.

Use your child’s screen ‘obsession’ to do something together as a family. Go to the movies and, afterwards, talk about the film, what you liked or didn’t like about it and what you got out of it. Play a favourite video game together. My dad, brother and I used to play Atari games until Mom kicked us out of the living room.

Don’t forget to give some extra time to God. Try showing up for Sunday Mass 15 minutes or a half-hour early to pray and prepare for the celebration of the Eucharist. If your parish has eucharistic adoration, introduce the kids to this wonderful practice that will bring them closer to the Lord and sustain them as they grow.

Bring technology into your prayer in an appropriate way. Find a streaming audio or video Rosary to pray along with.

Read some Bible stories together using an age-appropriate children’s bible. There’s a book called, ‘The Book that Changed Everything,’ by Sister Allison Regina Gliot about how special the Bible is. She’s even done some videos reading various bible stories for children. Look for ‘Bible Read-Aloud with Sr Allison’ on YouTube.

Get your kids into the kitchen. Look up a recipe online for something you enjoy, such as cupcakes, and bake them together. If you’re not into sugar, try doing something special on the grill. Not only is it fun but it will give your kids skills they’ll use later in life.

Take advantage of school holiday time to get to know your kids better. Tell them stories about yourself when you were their age. I remember loving listening to my mother tell me about going camping when she was growing up, or how she first met my father.


However you decide to keep your kids busy during the summer months, remember that this time is a gift, a golden opportunity to develop your relationship with them. Let conversation about anything and everything in the family be the default and not an afterthought. Give the kids time with their devices but also make sure they have the opportunity to make real world connections with other people and with the Lord.

Sister Hosea Rupprecht, a daughter of St Paul, is the associate director of the Pauline Centre for Media Studies.