Since March, families throughout the U.S. have had to adapt to major changes in the way we work and learn. With 18 million events and meetings organized nationwide each year, the vast majority of those meetings during the last four months have had to take place online. And of course, distance learning has now become the only option for American children, which has come with its fair share of technical hiccups and systemic failures.
But now, summer is in full swing. And although these months normally provide a bit of respite for many families, the strain continues. While many summer camps are closed or are operating in a limited capacity, some parents reluctant to send their children anywhere but their own backyard. And while the growing popularity of live-streaming has resulted in 44% of media viewers watching less TV, there are those who may not be thrilled by the idea of kids engaging in even more screentime this summer.
It’s important to remember, however, that not all screentime is bad. While it’s still important to reduce the physical risks of reliance on screens, like eye strain and sedentary lifestyles, there’s a lot of good that technology can do. And with many group activities and treasured pastimes all but prohibited this year, any opportunity to be engaged in a positive activity — even if it’s a virtual one — is welcomed. Happy kids equals a happy mom! Here are a few ways you can make the most of available virtual offerings for your kids to enjoy this summer.
Online Summer Camps
Your children may not be able to go to their favorite day camp this summer, but there are a ton of online camps they can attend. Walmart, Amazon Prime, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Michael’s, PBS Kids, OshKosh, National Geographic, and lots of other well-known organizations and brands have launched their own summer camp programs online. While some offer interactive videos (with celebrity guests, no less!), others are more focused on providing activity ideas for families. There are camps that feature arts and crafts, science and technology, math, literature, gaming, music, photography, and much more. It’s not too late to take advantage of these camps — and many of them are free of charge.
Virtual Museum Tours
If your family had to reschedule a vacation or can’t take advantage of making a visit to your favorite museum on a rainy day, there are some online solutions that can make you forget your disappointment. Around 53% of art collections worldwide feature over 500 different pieces of art, and you can experience many of those collections from the comfort of your own home. From the Louvre to the Met, you can explore the planet’s most well-known art through a virtual tour. It’s easy to pick a gallery that will captivate both you and your kids.
Cyber Learning Programs
Summer camps aren’t the only online opportunities for learning and fun this summer. Education and entertainment are at the forefront of many free or low-cost offerings you can access online. Check out the Wave Learning Festival, Crayola’s At-Home Creative Hub, resources from Sesame Street, the Metropolitan Opera’s kid-friendly programming, and online showings from zoos around the world to keep your kids occupied and engaged while sitting at the computer.
Digital National Park Visits
If you decided to cancel your camping trip out of an abundance of caution, you can still see the beauty of our nation through a screen. The National Park Foundation has released a number of virtual offerings for families, including video tours, live wildlife video feeds, and the National Park Service Junior Ranger program, which is geared towards young outdoor enthusiasts. This is a great way to explore many of the National Parks that exist and plan a future trip for another time.
While screentime is no replacement for outdoor fun, these virtual offerings can make a great supplement to the safe summertime activities your family has planned. By taking advantage of available resources, this summer can be one your little ones will never forget.