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Unplug for Summer
Photo: Lukasz Fus
School’s out for the summer! Our kids have worked long and hard and deserve a few months of rest and play. But for some kids, summer is a time of boredom while their parents are away at work or busy around the house. Unfortunately, many find themselves watching hours of TV.

As parents, grandparents, and childcare providers, we need to consider these startling statistics:
  • By the age of 18, an average American child will have seen 200,000 violent acts and 16,000 murders on TV.
  • Two-thirds of all programming contains violence.
  • The average child viewer will see 2,000 beer and wine commercials each year, and see many of their favorite characters smoke.
  • 51% of households say their TV is on most of the time.1
In addition to these facts, TV’s effects can be harmful both physically and emotionally. Too much TV can cause loss of sleep, over-eating, lack of fresh air and exercise, lack of imagination, and can isolate kids from their family and friends. If we allow our children to spend endless hours watching TV this summer, they’ll miss out on living each day to the fullest—and that’s what childhood is all about.

Creative Summer Ideas

If you don’t want TV to rule your child’s summer and need some creative ideas, here are a few to get you started. Click on the links for more details and to browse the sites for even more ideas:

Create a kid’s scrapbook. This site will show you how.

Play outdoor games. This site will give you more ideas than you’ll use in one summer.

Cook with your kids. This site has kid-friendly recipes that are fun to make and eat.

Identify flowers. Here you’ll find matching photos of flowers gathered from hikes and family travels.

Learn sign language. This site has printable flash cards you can print, cut, and use.

Paint ladybug rocks. This site will show you how to turn rocks gathered from trips to the park or hikes into cute bugs.

Make easy crafts.  Gives ideas using items you already have around the house.

Make Bible Friends paper dolls. This site has printable friends you can put together and use when reading Bible stories.

Keep learning! Gives dozens of summer learning activities for kids ages 4-18.

With these and many more wonderful ideas to help our children learn and grow, who needs TV? So why not unplug for the summer? Or at least have the TV on only for scheduled times.

It will take a little bit of creative planning, but our kids will be much happier if they aren’t spending their days zoned-out in front of a TV. Childhood is to be celebrated—and it goes by much too fast. As parents, whether we’re home during the day or trust our kids to someone else’s care, let’s plan the summer rather than just let it happen. Then someday, you and your child will look back on this one with fond memories.

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By Nancy Canwell. Copyright © 2008 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

1 http://www.med.umich.edu/1libr/yourchild/tv.htm

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