How to Keep Your Kids Off Their Devices During the Holiday Break?


Sandeep Singh

Fall is here, and you know what that means. There’s a string of holidays right around the corner. Maybe Halloween is your favorite. Or perhaps Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Christmas give you all the feels. Whichever one you love the most, there’s a good chance you want to make some family memories this year.

There’s one thing that may be standing in your way, however. It’s your kid’s smartphone. Like millions of other kids, they may have their faces in their phones more often than not. It’s hard to get great pictures or have good conversations when they’re occupied by technology.

So, what do you do? Being realistic, banning phones for the entire holiday vacation isn’t the answer. It will likely make your kid moody or angry, and that defeats your goal of a happy family holiday. Plus, you won’t have activities planned for every minute of the day. Still, it’s possible to keep them off their phones enough to enjoy that family time. Keep reading for some useful, easy-to-implement ideas.

1. Choose a Simple Phone

Social media and games are a big part of what sucks kids into phones. Luckily, you don’t have to get your child a phone with those capabilities. You can choose a kids phone that allows for text messaging and phone calls with certain people and sidesteps games and the internet.

Without all the social media apps, your child won’t receive a seemingly endless string of message notifications. They also won’t get caught up trying to reach the next level on their handheld game. Their phone becomes a useful tool, not an obsession. Consequently, it will be much easier to get them involved in other family activities so you can fully enjoy the holidays.

2. Hold Some Movie Marathons

During the holidays, there is no shortage of family movies to choose from. Nearly every TV station advertises its nightly lineup, and there’s something for everyone. When you’re feeling light-hearted, there are tons of animated and comedy movies. If you’re in a nostalgic mood, classic or heart-warming films can be your go-to.

To keep your kids off their phones, plan a few marathon movie nights. There are too many flicks to watch in one day. So set aside several evenings and decide which movies you’ll watch when. Consider mixing it up so you aren’t watching similar films on the same night. Throw in some holiday snacks, and you’ll have some great family time.

3. Plan a Family Game Night

Maybe movies aren’t your family’s thing. Truthfully, it can be a lot to ask younger kids to sit still for that long. If watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” isn’t in your holiday future, don’t stress. There are other ways to occupy your evenings.

Think about scheduling a family game night. There are plenty of board games, trivia games, or other interactive selections to choose from. Let everyone pick their favorite one and get started. Consider turning the TV off and listening to some holiday music. With the phones out of sight, you may be pleasantly surprised by the great conversation.

4. Get in the Kitchen

Think back to your childhood. What were some of the things you looked forward to most about the holidays? Holiday treats are likely somewhere near the top of that list. Whether it’s cookies, fudge, cakes, or pies, you probably have a favorite. There may also be fun recollections of being in the kitchen attached to those sweets.

Consider recreating those moments with your own kids. Baking together presents lots of opportunities to make memories. Take pictures of them all dusty and covered with flour. Let them steal some chocolate chips while you’re making brownies. Get ambitious and build a gingerbread house together.

If your kids are in the kitchen with you, there are a couple of things going on. They’re learning to make their favorite holiday yum-yums. Plus, they’re forming some treasured memories — and their phone’s sitting untouched and momentarily forgotten.

5. Decorate Your Space

If you enjoy this sort of thing, a big part of holiday fun can be transforming your home during the season. For a few weeks or months of the year, your living space becomes a holiday wonderland. It could be twinkling lights, a tree, candles, greenery, or stars. Whatever you choose to put up, get your kids involved.

Put a string of lights in your child’s hand. Ask them to wrap the garland around a banister. Put them in charge of crafting a few centerpieces. Let them get creative and add their own personal twist to your holiday decor. You’ll be amazed at what they come up with when their hands are occupied by something other than a phone.

6. Tour Some Neighborhoods

Now that your space is decorated, consider going on a tour to see what others have done. Some homeowners may hang a dizzying array of multi-colored lights. Others may have inflatables. Still others may be featuring beautiful cultural and religious imagery. Seeing how others have decorated their homes is fun, and it can give you ideas for next year.

Choose an evening or two to pile everyone into the car and head out on your gawkfest. Ask your kids which decorations they like best. Give them a chance to select something new they would add for the next holiday season. Take a few photos so you can better recreate the look when that time comes.

The holiday season is fast approaching. There’s a good chance everyone in your family is looking forward to some relaxation. While that can include some vegging-out time with phones, technology doesn’t have to take over. With these ideas in your holiday toolkit, you can squeeze in some valuable family time, too.