Top 10 ideas for tempting teens off tech in the school holidays
School holidays can be a nightmare for parents of teenagers. Teens are too old to be parked in childcare but they can’t always be trusted to make great decisions about how they spend their days. Boxset binge-watching and Xbox marathons are fine every now and then – but for six whole weeks?!
So, prepare yourself for the school holidays with these great ideas for tempting teens off tech. (And they might even learn some non-digital skills while they’re at it…).
- Get them gym membership – lots of gyms do special offers for teenagers. While they’re getting fit, they could…
- Train for a sponsored event – a sponsored walk, run or cycle (or even a triathlon) in aid of their favourite charity. They could train with a friend or maybe you could all work towards a team event as a family? That would be a great way to sneak in some bonding time and keep teens off tech at the same time!
- Volunteer for a charity – if sport is not their thing, then how about helping out in other ways? Volunteering is great for CVs and university applications and can help build teens’ confidence by getting them interacting with a wider range of people. Perhaps they have a skill or a passion they could draw upon?
- Big projects – whether it’s redecorating their bedrooms, converting a shed into a teen den, making a film or renovating an old bike, getting hands-on in a project is a fabulous way to have fun and learn new skills.
- Find them a job – not always easy, I know, but definitely worth a try. Lots of businesses need extra hands in the holidays and real workplace experience is invaluable preparation for their future. Do they have a hobby that might lead to a paid role with a bit of creative thinking? If they are old enough, they could register to work as a steward or litter picker at a nearby summer sporting event or even volunteer at a festival in return for a free ticket. If a job can’t be found then….
- Start a business – how about selling off all that old Lego online? Or making homemade greetings cards? Or mowing lawns or walking dogs for the neighbours? Money is a great motivator to get teens out of bed! No business ideas? Then…
- Give them extra household chores (and pay them) – shopping, dog walking, cleaning, gardening, ironing etc. You may need to show them how to do it (and perhaps adjust your standards a little) but keeping teens off tech and getting your washing done is a win-win. (And I don’t need to remind you that they should be doing their own washing already, do I?).
- Leisure passes – if they are too old for holiday clubs but you are willing to throw money at the problem, then a theme park pass might be a worthwhile investment. Or how about a cinema gift card you can top up when needed? I know that involves a screen, but it also gets them out of the house, socialising and navigating the big wide world.
- Summer camp – they might be too old for childcare but what about an adventure holiday in the company of other teenagers? This is an expensive option, but perhaps you could outsource their supervision while you do an intensive week at work. There are sometimes local community groups that offer cheaper alternatives. Or (as I used to do), outsource them to Grandma’s house!
- Day trips – when it comes to encouraging teens off tech, you may need to take it day by day (especially if your particular teen is hard to engage or refuses to commit). Check out local sports clubs and youth groups to see if they run day trips (these might even be free – check your local council website for info). If you can get some time off work, how about an energetic activity like mountain biking to get them moving, or check out these fun family activities for ideas. Be sure to give your teenager specific tasks to do around planning & packing & preparations, though, so you don’t end up doing it all.
Don’t forget, even the best ideas will fail if you don’t involve your teenager in planning and decision-making (as I found out in How to get your teenager out of their bedroom and The Wrong Way to Plan Family Time with a Grumpy Teenager). Set a budget, get out the diary and sit down with your teenager for a family meeting. Set some ground rules for screen time but also factor in plenty of down time that they can use in whatever way they want (including on tech). The aim is to find a balance that fits everyone’s agenda. Happy planning!