Here’s How to Ensure Your Kids Don’t Spend the Entire Break Staring at Screens

There’s nothing wrong with some device time. Just use these tips to make sure your kids don’t overdo it.

Nir Eyal
Published in
7 min readDec 14, 2021


Photo by Alireza Attari on Unsplash

It’s that time of year when kids have a long break from school and parents and guardians likely have some time off work.

What will we do with all that free time?

Parents may worry that extended free time means children and teens will automatically be glued to their devices all day — especially if they have to return to work before school is back in session.

When kids are on their own, can they be trusted to do something other than watch TV and movies, play video games, or engage in social media for hours on end?

The good news is that some screen time is fine. The moral panic blaming kids’ personal technology for all kinds of problems has likely been overblown.

An excellent new metastudy concludes, “screen media plays little role in mental health concerns.” In fact, moderate use of technology can have a small positive impact on mental well-being, according to a study by Dr. Andrew Przybylski.

But we certainly don’t want our children spending all of their precious time in the virtual world. We also want to establish healthy boundaries, like never allowing devices at family meals.

That’s why the school break presents an excellent opportunity to help kids learn to effectively manage their screen time. It also provides a great opportunity for parents to set an example for kids by not only making time for family but also doing activities without devices.

Here are some dos and don’ts for encouraging kids not to go overboard on screen time while on vacation.

Don’t Enforce. Engage!

Once, when I asked my teenager to wash the dishes after dinner, she replied, ​​“I was going to, Dad. But now that you’ve asked me to, I don’t want to anymore.”

My daughter had just demonstrated a classic example of psychological reactance — our knee-jerk negative reaction to being told what to do.



Nir Eyal
Writer for

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