The American Academy of Pediatrics says that kids spend up to seven hours a day on screens, and summer time can make those numbers climb higher. And while we can encourage balance and offscreen hobbies, we can also make time onscreen more meaningful and rewarding. How? Here are some helpful tips from our friends at Messenger Kids.

1. Chat about online safety basics.

According to one 2017 study, two-thirds of young people say they would like schools to provide more support on online safety issues.

Where to start? Connect Safely offers tips and advice  to help teachers guide students to take on more responsibility in their digital lives. 

2. Collaborate with families.

Of course, we can’t keep students safe online without having families on board. That’s why, together with Messenger Kids, we created this free one-page flyer to email  home (or share on social media),  sharing our top tips for parents to help their kids nurture healthy digital habits this summer. It’s available in English and Spanish versions. 

3. Teach smart social media habits.

There are two important messages to share when it comes to social media. The first is that what students post, send, or share is forever. Talk about how what they share informs how their school community and family sees them … and how they see themselves. 

The second is that digital citizenship matters. Online environments are no different than the playground: “If you see something, say something.” Letting students know what kind of behavior is okay is critical for a safe and positive online experience. 

4. Recommend kid-friendly tools.

If there’s one thing the internet isn’t short on its choices, and the number of kid-safe options continues to grow. A few of our favorites include search engines like Kiddle and  Safe Search Kids as well as the video and messaging app Messenger Kids

5. Use tech to nurture IRL friendships.

Some of your students may be having far-flung adventures this summer, while others stick closer to home. No matter where their summers take them, encourage kids to take advantage of digital tools to stay in touch with one another. You might even challenge them to share reading recommendations or summer bucket list items.

We’re digging Messenger Kids as a way for our students—and our own kids—to stay connected friends and family in a controlled environment. Learn more about the app here.