We live in an age where technology comprises an astounding amount of our time. Children, for example, get the majority of their entertainment from screens like tablets, iPads, laptops, and TVs. According to Mattress Advisor, kids get an average of 4 hours and 36 minutes of screen time every day.
There are many problems with too much screen time such as problems sleeping, lack of interest in other activities, and minimal physical activity. These problems can compound into larger issues like chronic crankiness, stunted creativity, and even childhood obesity. Parents and caregivers need to not just limit screen time, but also offer replacement activities to fill the gaps. Fortunately, there are many fun ways to keep kids away from screens that can benefit their mental and physical health.
If It’s Nice, Go Outside!
Never underestimate the power of nature to provide epic entertainment. Before television was ever invented for thousands of years children played outdoors and there’s no reason they can’t continue to do so today. Here are a few easy ideas.
- Go to a park with a playground
- Sign kids up for sports
- Do a trial hike
- Create a backyard scavenger hunt
Keep Hands Busy with Arts & Crafts
When the weather is poor and everyone is stuck inside it can drive parents to madness. Siblings will suddenly become bored and start bickering. Instead of fighting a losing battle, redirect them to get creative with one of these great activities.
- Make collages from magazine pictures
- Let them paint self-portraits
- Teach older kids to sew
- Give kids recyclable items and challenge them to make a “robot”
Books Aren’t Just For School
Many kids view reading as homework, and while it might be, it’s always a great idea to encourage reading for fun. There are books on literally all topics just waiting to be read. Bonus points for these activities because your children will inadvertently be learning.
- Take a trip to the library and let the kids explore
- Read a book together and do a related activity
- Act out a play (or have your kids put on a show)
- Make sock puppets and act out their favorite book
Cooking and baking are dually rewarding. Children learn about measurements and science without realizing it, and they get to eat the fruits of their labor. Check out these simple, fun kitchen activities.
- Bake cupcakes together and then let the kids decorate them
- Show them how to make their favorite food
- Ask for their help in making lunch (and cleaning up after)
- Do a science experiment like mixing vinegar and baking soda
Fun is Just a Song Away
Music has a wonderful way of boosting your mood and the same goes for your kids. Skip the headphones and try these musical activities as a screen-alternative.
- Have an impromptu dance party
- Any instruments at home? Let the kids try them out
- Challenge them to write a song and sing it for you
- Encourage siblings to choreograph and perform a dance
Going out on educational adventures is not limited to school time. Plan your own outing, pack sack lunches, and get your tour guide on while the kids enjoy a new experience. No ideas? Here’s a few for inspiration.
- Schedule a tour of your local fire station
- Visit the zoo
- Do a nature walk at a new park
- Show kids around your workplace
Reducing screen time is easy in theory, but your kids will probably complain at first. Hold firm and offer fun replacement activities to help eliminate negative attitudes and teach your children the lifelong skill of being able to entertain themselves. From getting outside to indulging your child’s creativity, there are many screen-free activities for kids that you can try. Prepare to say good-bye to summertime cries of, “I’m booooooored!”