The UK Safer Internet Centre Family Summer Challenge

Our resident digital parenting expert Elizabeth Milovidov has put together this Family Summer Challenge as part of our work for the UK Safer Internet Centre.

The UK Safer Internet Centre has lots of summer activities suggestions for your family (for all ages) along 6 themes – one for each week of the holidays!  

All over the United Kingdom, children and young people are breathing a collective sigh of relief as the school year ends and the summer months begin. Parents and carers, on the other hand, may be feeling a bit overwhelmed as they see the summer months stretched out before them and they may be concerned about the amount of time their children will be spending online. At the UK Safer Internet Centre, we know that technology can play a very positive part in young people’s lives. This is why we have put together the Family Summer Challenge to help families benefit from online and offline activities in equal measure and keep them connected, creative and entertained.

What is our Family Summer Challenge?

Our Family Summer Challenge is full of activities that children and parents/carers can do together, and is a mix of online and offline challenges. The challenges are also divided into six themes – creativity, fitness, emotional, culinary, environmental, and discovery.  

There are activities for all ages; under 7, 8-12 and 13-17 year olds all grouped into the six weekly themes.

We have added online activities to the challenge because technology, internet and social media can provide positive experiences and opportunities and we know that it engages young people, so can be a great starting point for any family activity. One great benefit of the summer holidays is that parents/carers may have more time to really dive into their child’s digital world.

How to take the Family Summer Challenge?

Read through the summer challenge and see what activities would work best for your family. Don’t be afraid to present new ideas to your kids; they may just surprise you! Feel free to adapt these to suit your family needs and your kids’ own ideas. Once you have identified your challenge for the week, pick your time, gather any necessities for the activity and have fun.

You can also download the Family Summer Challenge chart here. If you want to share your family fun, please post and share with us on social media (@UK_SIC) using #FamilySummerChallenge and let us know how it’s going.

Get creative!

Use a range of sites, apps or games to get your creativity flowing online and offline.

Parents/carers and their children under 7

  • Get creative with paper: make a kite, a paper airplane or an origami animal you can use some fantastic arts and crafts sites online to get some ideas. Try the BBC Mister Maker website
  • Pick up a magnifying glass and a journal and document all the summer insects and plants outside

Parents/carers and their children 8-12

  • Gather small pebbles and rocks to skim rocks, make a rock mosaic, picture frame or pet rock. Find some ideas here
  • Create a summer family photo album or collage of photos in paper or digital format

Parents/carers and teenagers 13-17

  • Pick-up a disposable camera and let the teens be photojournalists for the summer; don’t forget to ask for consent!
  • Improve your photography or filming skills by watching a free tutorial
  • Download the InfoAge+ app to see if you can achieve the tasks set by the Science Museum

Note for parents/carers

Get fit!

There is a wide range of fitness and health videos available online to help your family get moving this summer.

Parents/carers and children under 7

  • Choose your family favourite songs on your music streaming app and have an impromptu dance party - turn up the music and get moving!
  • While watching your favourite show on Netflix, take a break between episodes for a chance to do some quick yoga or jumping jacks in the living room together
  • Check out the NHS guidelines for physical activities for 5-18 year olds

Parents/carers and children 8-12

  • Go for a walk in the local woods/park and use your smartphone to find some geocaching spots
  • Grab some friends for a swim at the local public pool or camp out in the back garden

Parents/carers and teenagers 13-17

  • Share and try to learn some dance moves from each other – what are some moves popular now amongst young people and what was popular when your parents were young?
  • Research a work out app or work out videos on YouTube and have a go too
  • Note for parents/carers

Note for parents/carers

  • Create a playlist of favourite music for workouts or a dance party
  • Take a walk with your child to the nearby park, wood or beach

Get emotional!

The summer holidays are a great opportunity to spend time together as a family and have conversations about feelings, and specifically how we feel and express our feelings online

Parents/carers and children under 7

  • Watch our puppets Red and Murphy talk about the importance of taking a minute when something you see online is upsetting or too much
  • Do a role-play game that begins with “How would you feel if…”

Parents/carers and children 8-12

  • Try the new Own It app from the BBC to help you lead a happy and healthy life online
  • Try yoga or meditation or spend a moment of gratitude, have a conversation as a family about why taking time out regularly is important for our well-being

Parents/carers and teenagers 13-17

Note for parents/carers

Get cooking!

There are lots of cooking tutorials online – why not find some How to videos of recipes you like and get cooking in the kitchen together

Parents/carers and children under 7

  • See how many snacks you can make using fruits, vegetables or nuts
  • Draw or paint your favourite summer snack

Parents/carers and children 8-12

  • Make a weekly plan of healthy desserts without using any sugar at all
  • Find a big basket or container and fill it up with healthy picnic foods, then plan a picnic together

Parents/carers and teenagers 13-17

  • Create a recipe book with family summer favourites in paper or digital format
  • Make your own cooking video to share with your family and friends
  • Use Pinterest to find tasty, sweet, spicy or salty new recipe ideas

Note for parents/carers

  • BBC Good Food has useful guides to cookery skills by age and some recipes suitable for any age
  • Research apps that help your family pull together healthy meals with simple recipes like the Change4Life Smart Recipes app
  • Take a look at your own eating and culinary habits, think of how you can be role model for your family

Get green!

Spending time outside and exploring how we can protect our planet can be a great family activity this summer, and you can start with finding information online about how you can make a difference.

Parents/carers and children under 7

  • Plant a garden plant outdoors or in a mason jar
  • Visit a natural science museum

Parents/carers and children 8-12

  • Do research on what is better for your family: paper or plastic? Come up with ideas as a family on how you can reduce the plastic you use at home
  • Walk barefoot on the beach and then think about digital footprints and the traces we leave behind

Parents/carers and teenagers 13-17

Note to parents/carers

Get discovering!

Being curious needn’t change with age – explore and ask questions as a family about the world around us.

Parents/ carers and children under 7

Parents/ carers and children 8-12

  • Think about mechanics and find out how things work: fans, engines, computers?
  • Check out The Science Museum’s range of science games and apps
  • Share your favourite YouTube channel that discusses Science and Discovery with your family   

Parents/carers and teenagers 13-17

Note to parents/carers

Our Advice Centre for parents and carers contains a lot of information on keeping your family safe online and you can also find guidance here on hot topics such as screen time, bullying, gaming and many more.

We hope you enjoy these activities together as a family this summer. Let us know how you are getting on - #FamilySummerChallenge or tag us at @UK_SIC. Have fun!

This article was first published on the UK Safer Internet Centre website.

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