The digital world that keeps us all connected, informed, and entertained isn’t all bad. No one is saying that screen time doesn’t have its place, in fact, there are many quality educational apps for kids today. The problem is, kids are spending an alarming amount of time in front of screens at the expense of more mindful and creative hands-on activities.
How much time are we talking about? The American Health Association says that kids and teens are spending up to 7 hours a day looking at screens. This can include phones, tablets, laptops, and TVs. The actual recommendation most experts agree on is closer to just one or two hours per day.
Why Should We Limit Screen Time?
Screen time has been linked to a sedative lifestyle which increases the risk for childhood obesity and type II diabetes. The blue light can also interfere with sleep patterns.
Spending too much time isolated in front of a screen also prevents family bonding. Doing activities together helps children develop strong social skills, confidence, and problem-solving techniques.
Solving the too-much screen time dilemma will start with a conversation. Explain to your children why it’s important to have balance in all things, including screen time. Next, set a schedule that specifies when screen time is allowed. You can break up periods of prolonged screen time with exercise or play breaks.
How To Replace Screen Time With Interactive Hands-On Play
Especially for young kids, spending less time in front of screens might take some practice. What will they do to keep busy and entertained instead? Here are some ideas for hands-on activities that will stimulate their creativity. Some can be done alone and others can include parent involvement. Remember, kids thrive when given lots of opportunities to play with their parents and grandparents.
Make A Fort
Ask any kid who’s ever gotten a present in a large cardboard box, sometimes the package itself is more fun to play with than the toys. At MakeAFort.com we’ve come up with reusable kits that allow kids to build forts, castles, and tunnels out of recycled cardboard.
Make An Art Project
Gather up the crayons and glue, it’s time to do some arts and crafts! You can also use art materials to decorate the cardboard fort you just made! Creative expression helps children build confidence and appreciate the arts.
Cook Up A Snack
Small children will need help from a parent to get creative in the kitchen. Teaching kids to cook is fun but it’s also a valuable life skill that they’re going to need. Have children help make lists, shop, prepare fruits and vegetables, and mix up the perfect meal or treat.
You can build your fort indoors or outside in the backyard. One of the goals will be to get your kids up and moving, allowing them to give their bodies and minds a workout. You’ll treasure this time with family and your kids will have so much fun they won’t miss the extra screen time one bit.