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Digital detox: Online programs can keep kids learning while striking a digital balance this summer

Posted: 7:42 AM, Jun 05, 2019
Updated: 2019-06-05 14:08:37Z
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The kids have only been out of school for a week, but if they’re already getting bored, they may be turning to their smartphones and other devices for entertainment. Denver7 looked into options for parents who would like to see their kids break free from devices, or use them in a positive way this summer.

The advocacy group Screen Education surveyed over a thousand kids at summer camps where no phones were allowed. Sixty-nine percent of campers surveyed said they would be happier if they could spend less time on their cell phones each day. Ninety-three percent said they were relieved to get a break from social media.

Unfortunately, for many parents, a full break from devices may not be realistic.

“I would argue more for a balance rather than a complete break,” said Dr. Bethany Fleck Dillen, a Metropolitan State University of Denver psychology professor. “We want to teach our children responsible use of screens and if we just cut if off completely, we're not really showing them how to maintain that balance, or how to make the right decisions."

Fleck Dillen said parents can set digital-free zones in the home, and digital-free times. But for the times when your kids are using tech this summer, there are ways to keep it educational.

Google has launched a series of summer learning programs. CS First teaches kids how to code through games and cartoons. Google has also created a site called Internet Awesome that teaches kids about internet safety.

“It teaches kids about how not to fall for scams, protecting their online ID, online harassment, being kind,” said Latoya Drake with Google.

The advocacy group Common Sense Media lists several online learning programs, many of them free. One site, Khan Academy, offers free online courses for different grade levels. Hoffman Academy has also announced a free online piano summer camp.