As summer nears, the anticipation for warmer weather, extended time outdoors and frequent visits to the park heightens. While the allure of the outdoors is enticing for some, for many others the summer lifestyle is equated to a less structured day filled with an increase in time spent online discovering new websites, games and activities.

An adoption of something new, or an increase in interest of something familiar, brings the need for additional preparation, conversation and obligation. These responsibilities fall upon the parents and adults that surround young people.

How can you be sure that your child’s free time spent online can be productive, purposeful and safe this summer?

Begin with activities they already do such as:
  • Reading high-interest stories
  • Listening to music or podcasts
  • Exercising
  • Practicing fine motor skills
  • Playing with friends
  • Trying a new hobby individually or with a group
  • Solving puzzles
  • Touring museums
  • Independently working on academic skills
  • Watching videos with interest that span a variety of topics

The summer activities above don’t all require technology, but they all offer opportunities for engagement in an activity or pastime that boasts positive participation results.

Surfing the web and participating in other online activities require a lot of screen time, but that can be an advantage in today’s fast-paced, tech-driven world. It is just as important to know the correct ways to use and interact with technology as it is to have fun with and experience it.

Additionally, each and every one of us, regardless of age, choose to participate in various activities online that focus on our own individual wants, needs and curiosities. To arbitrarily assign a time limit or restrict screen time completely is to ignore an opportunity of personal growth and educational exploration. Instead of assigning a time limit for total time spent online, consider deliberately guiding children’s online activities to be active, informative and purposeful.

Get access to six samples of L3 Skills activities that promote purposeful internet usage through fun skills practice activities.

After understanding that time spent online can be productive, introduce the practice of online safety. Providing and understanding online safety helps keep children safe and informed as they explore these new experiences.

Make sure to ask yourself, what can you do?
  • Print, post and review internet safety rules and tips
  • Create a short list of approved websites
  • Set and honor household rules for time online
  • Guide children to sites that require active participation
  • Use skills practice activities, such as L3 Skills, to promote summer learning
  • Ask what children see, hear, like and dislike about each website
  • Use charging time as a break from devices
  • Incorporate blocks of time that stray away from electronics

Preparation and conversation about internet safety do not have to eclipse the fun for any online activity. A little time and attention can prevent issues that may arise when children are given the opportunity to explore new environments and create their own experiences. Also, making a note to pay close attention to what kids are doing, seeing and hearing both online and offline can help you help them succeed. How will you approach the topic of online safety and productivity with your children with learning disabilities this summer?

L3 Skills: academic and transition skill-building games for special education.

Want to try L3 Skills? Sample our skills practice activities to help promote summer learning.

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About the Author
Anne Johnson-Oliss has spent more than 20 years in the special education field as a teacher, supervisor, sales and marketing professional and business leader. In addition to teaching at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, Anne has authored five books and is an experienced presenter at national and international forums. She earned a Master of Education degree from Wright State and holds several certifications in education and business.