July 5, 2018


Dr Kristy Goodwin shares why banning technology in the holidays doesn’t work.

Dr Kristy is one of Australia’s leading digital health, wellbeing, learning and productivity experts. She recently joined a discussion on Sunrise and said she encourages parents to PLAN not BAN devices during school holidays.

Why do screen bans and digital detoxes fail?

1. Complete digital detoxes can create a purge and binge cycle. Kids might be forced to have screen-free time and then when they get back on the screen, they might use more than they usually would, so they can satisfy their digital cravings. Instead, we need to promote and teach our kids healthy and sustainable habits.

2. They can drive behaviour underground- they’ll buy a decoy phone or smuggle another phone. We need to teach them healthy sustainable habits.

Should kids still be bored in the holidays?


Boredom is essential for kids and teens (and us too). Neuroscience tells us when we’re bored we enter mind-wandering mode (day dreaming). This is when we come up with creative ideas, problem solving and novel approaches to things. The human brain isn’t designed to be constantly on and processing information. Yet, today we don’t have white space because we fill the void with screens. Our brains need and benefit from unplugged time. School holidays provide ample time for boredom.

My simple tip- if your kids declare their boredom (and they usually do so in a way that suggests you’ve inflicted a childhood crime against them), give them the option of coming up with something themselves, or tell them you’ll assign them an activity. They’ll only do this once or twice and they’ll stop complaining that they’re bored!

Should we be looking at school holidays as the perfect time to help our kids develop healthy digital habits?

Yes, it’s a great time to reclaim a sustainable and healthy relationship with technology—one that teaches us lifelong healthy digital habits.
Establish boundaries and rules before holiday starts and explain that your school holiday rules may be different than the regular boundaries regarding screens during school term time.

Balance their green and screen time during the holidays. Outdoor, unstructured play is vital.

Rather than banning or limiting screen time use the crowding technique where you crowd out their undesirable behaviour (e.g. excessive screen time) with other activities or even time for boredom.

Use Internet- filtering tools that help you create screen time access so when you’re not at home during the holidays supervising, your screen rules and restrictions are enforced. As always, I personally use and recommend Family Zone Cyber Safety.

How do you manage screen time during the school holidays?

Share your comments below

  • Everything in moderation is definitely the way to go. Do hope children look forward to holidays as a time for playing with their friends and finding new activities, swimming, playing at the beach etc.


  • School holidays are a great opportunity to catch up with others with children who are at different schools or who play different sports to our children and the times clash during the school terms.
    Some activities close during the school holidays which frees up some extra time to do things we otherwise don’t have time to do.


  • When we go in the caravan we have no television or devises. Long walks, swims, shopping, cards and games are all we need.


  • We used to play games during the school holidays though by the end we were over it and got board and did other things. As long as the kids do not become addicted it’s fine.


  • There is a place for devices. Everything in moderation.


  • We have screen free time during the holidays. This gives them a break and they come out of their rooms to socialise or actually play with their toys


  • I agree plan not ban technology as it is the way of the future.


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