Struggling to balance screen time for your kids during family getaways? We’ve gathered eight effective strategies from CEOs and marketing experts to keep your children engaged and entertained. From immersing kids in nature to implementing a screen-time-for-activity exchange, discover how to manage digital distractions on your next vacation.

  • Immerse Kids in Nature
  • Establish Screen-Free Zones
  • Use a “Dead Battery” App
  • Model Balanced Screen Use
  • Engage Kids With Local Culture
  • Plan Interactive Family Activities
  • Set Clear Screen Time Limits
  • Implement Screen-Time-for-Activity Exchange

Immerse Kids in Nature

On our cherished meadow in the Beskids, I watch my son play where I once did, feeling a deep connection to our roots. To manage his screen time, I immerse him in nature’s beauty. We explore, listen to birds, and feel the wind. The freedom and joy of these moments captivate him more than any screen. Prioritize outdoor adventures, share stories of your own childhood, and show them the magic of nature. These experiences create lasting memories and naturally reduce the allure of screens.

Agnieszka RusinekAgnieszka Rusinek
CEO, Meadow’s Tale

Establish Screen-Free Zones

A great technique we use when traveling with children is ‘screen-free zones’ for a few hours a day or for specific activities. It supports kids in being present with their environment, interacting with their family, and so on without being sucked into technology.

Things like screen time are reserved for meals, sightseeing excursions, and set times for family games or activities without screens in sight. We explain to the kids ahead of time that these are special times reserved for being together and the once-in-a-lifetime adventures we have on vacation. And to help make this a truly effective trick, we pair it up with a series of fun activities that will engage them and save them from the grasp of the screen. Whether it be seeing local sights, playing in the great outdoors, or using maker eyes and hands (drawing is super small and all you need is a pen or pencil, or LEGO—provided it is travel-friendly LEGO), you will be amazed at how to keep your offspring entertained through fun things to do for kids on the road.

We also have the kids help us determine the rules and establish the screen-free times so that they feel like they have some say in the matter and get a little more buy-in on the implementation. At the same time, we make sure to practice what we preach and put away our own devices during these times. We demand that the kids have screens only after everyone arrives or once the show starts when we travel, or only in the evening if a football match is on TV. We have healthy screen time in case of a trip in which they will get some time (still with supervision), but also time to interact with the family and fully enjoy what the place has to offer.

Ultimately, this ‘screen-free zones’ policy serves to keep screen time in balance, so that our family vacations are always all about the special times we spend together, these valuable moments shared in person, through our memories and photographs.

Alex CorniciAlex Cornici
Founder & CEO, The Traveler

Use a “Dead Battery” App

My toddler daughter loves her screen time, especially when we’re traveling for vacations. However, it’s always a struggle to get her to stop using her tablet when it’s time. To make this easier, I discovered an app that simulates a dead battery and prompts her to hand over the tablet without any fuss.

This app lets me control how long the ‘dead battery’ message appears and how often it pops up, making it convenient to time it just before we arrive at our destination. I set it last time to go off right before the plane was to land and made for an easy end to screen time.

Evan McCarthyEvan McCarthy
President and CEO, SportingSmiles

Model Balanced Screen Use

As a parent and business owner, I’m straddling the line between setting a good example and getting my own work done while on a family vacation.

Most adults these days simply aren’t able to take a week or two off from checking emails, if only to ensure no office emergency is unfolding. So, when I’m on vacation with my kids, I try to offer them the same leeway. Going on your phone once a day is okay—but spending hours online is not.

By displaying the behavior I’d like to see mimicked, my kids are more likely to fall in line, and so I set broad boundaries on everyone, including myself.

“Do as I do” is a far more effective strategy than “do as I say”.

Rob ReevesRob Reeves
CEO and President, Redfish Technology

Engage Kids With Local Culture

In today’s smart age, it is difficult to keep your kids away from phones or laptops while they are at home, doing multiple things, including homework. You can’t constantly monitor what they are doing or reduce their screen time.

But during a family vacation, you can do that without taking away their phones or laptops. You must do something so that your kids will keep their devices away and engage in other activities. If you go to another place for vacation, share interesting stories, facts, or information with them. Take them out to visit exciting tourist places. Take them for a walk to explore local shops, restaurants, and parks.

When you are at the hotel, do not use your phone or laptop in front of them. Instead of phone browsing, have a little chat about how their day was, what unique experiences they had, etc. Then, before dinner, have a storytelling session. Initially, you have to start, and they will follow you. If it doesn’t work out, play indoor games like Scrabble, Monopoly, Chess, Checkers, The Game of Life, etc. My favorite was Dungeons and Dragons.

You must try different methods because you can’t be sure which strategy will please your kids.

Loretta KildayLoretta Kilday
Debtcc Spokesperson, Debt Consolidation Care

Plan Interactive Family Activities

Digital Downtime begins by implementing specific times when screens are allowed, such as during long car rides or flights. At other times, embrace activities that create moments of bonding and discovery. Have kids help plan parts of the trip, like picking sightseeing spots or restaurants. This not only gets the whole family involved but also makes your kids feel a sense of ownership over the holiday and excitement about it. For example, offering non-screen-time activities like travel journals, sketchbooks, or family games can keep children engaged.

Model reasonable screen use. If children see their parents sticking to screen-time rules and not overdoing it, they are more likely to do the same. Family getaways are an ideal time to model the pleasure of simply being and interacting with one another instead of with digital distractions. This results in sharing experiences, discoveries, and memories, enabling meaningful conversations.

Finally, explain the reasons behind these screen-time limits. Teach your children about these limits—how they help everyone enjoy the holiday to the fullest and not miss out on new experiences. By being explicit, you show your children that these are not just random rules but a game plan designed for their benefit, leading to greater cooperation and fewer power struggles. Using strategies like these can help families balance a vacation with the best of digital (music, books, etc.) and the best of reality (nature).

Staci AndersonStaci Anderson
Director of Marketing, Raynor Garage Doors

Set Clear Screen Time Limits

An efficacious approach that we employ to regulate children’s screen time during family vacations is the establishment of unambiguous limits and designated periods or activities devoid of screens. We educate our children on the significance of balancing screen time with other enjoyable activities, such as playing games, exploring nature, or participating in group activities, prior to the excursion. Additionally, we engage them in the organization of enjoyable excursions and outings that promote social interaction and physical activity, thereby aiding in the organic reduction of their screen time.

In lieu of screens, we offer a diverse selection of alternative recreational activities, including puzzles, books, and outdoor diversions, to occupy their time during periods of inactivity. We also limit daily screen time and access to specific applications and websites through the use of parental controls and screen-time management functions on our devices. By consistently incorporating these strategies, we encourage a harmonious equilibrium between screen time and practical experiences, thereby cultivating significant familial bonds and indelible vacations.

Jessica SheeJessica Shee
Senior Tech and Marketing Manager, M3 Data Recovery

Implement Screen-Time-for-Activity Exchange

A successful method I employ to control children’s time spent on electronic devices during family getaways is introducing a “screen-time-for-activity” exchange system. This method has proven to be highly beneficial for our family vacations.

We establish goals for each hour spent being active or discovering new places. My children receive a specific amount of time to use screens. This approach motivates them to connect more with nature and guarantees they receive ample physical activity and fresh air. For instance, on our visit to Yosemite, we went hiking, followed trails, and participated in ranger-led programs. For every hour dedicated to these activities, we granted them 30 minutes of screen time in the evening.

Here is data that backs up this strategy: The American Academy of Pediatrics advises mixing time spent in front of screens with exercise; our technique aligns with these recommendations. It aids in maintaining a healthy equilibrium and turns screen time into a treat instead of an obligation.

While in the Rocky Mountains, our children enthusiastically joined in a wildlife treasure hunt, aware they would get some time on their devices as a reward. They were so absorbed in the tasks that they frequently ignored their gadgets. By the day’s conclusion, they were keen to unwind with their gadgets, utilizing their allotted screen time wisely without going overboard.

Eliot VancilEliot Vancil
CEO, Fuel Logic

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