Screen time gets a bad rap, and I totally get it. Here are screen time activities your kids can enjoy and you can feel good about too!
Are you worried about the amount of time your kids spend in front of a screen? You’re not alone. A lot of parents are concerned about how much time their kids spend looking at screens, and rightly so.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under 2 years old not have any screen time at all. For older children, they suggest that screen time be limited to an hour a day of high-quality programming.
But what if you could find fun and educational apps and games that also encourage your kids to spend less time staring at a screen?
You can! There are plenty of kids screen time activities that feel good about because they promote healthy habits for growing minds and bodies.
These ideas won’t feel like chores but something that your child will look forward to every day.
What is screen time?
Screen time is any time your child spends looking at a screen, whether it’s a TV screen, computer screen, tablet screen, or smartphone screen.
Too much screen time can affect your child’s mental and physical health in a number of ways. It can harm his sleep, attention span, and social skills, as well as his ability to focus, problem solve, and retain information.
Too much screen time can also lead to obesity and other health problems. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that kids under 2 years old have no screen time whatsoever.
For children between 2 and 5 years old, the AAP recommends no more than 1 hour of “educational” screen time per day.
How much screen time is too much for kids?
The amount of time spent in front of a screen is different for every child. As a parent, you know your child best and can monitor his screen time and make adjustments as needed. If you’re concerned about your child’s screen time, it’s a good idea to start paying attention to how much time your child spends looking at a screen and for how long.
You can do this by installing a time-monitoring app on your child’s device (like the one available for iPhones), or setting a timer on your watch. Keep in mind that screen time is different than screen-free time.
No matter how much screen time your child has had during the day, make sure that he gets plenty of screen-free time as well (such as time spent outside playing, reading, doing crafts, or engaging in other creative and imaginative activities).
Activities for your kids during screen time
– Creative play – One of the best things for your child’s brain is time spent playing. Playing with blocks, making art, playing dress-up, and creating sculptures are all great ways to foster a child’s creativity, imagination, and problem-solving skills.
– Reading – Reading is another great way to promote your child’s brain health. Although some reading apps are designed to help kids learn to read, reading together is a great way to bond while your child is stuck in front of the screen.
– Creative movement – When you’re stuck inside, there are lots of ways to get your child moving. You can dance, hop on a mini-trampoline, or do silly exercises together.
– Face time – Your child may have friends who are also spending too much time in front of a screen. Organize a “no screens” movie night with your child’s friends or set up a playdate in person.
– Nature exploration – Head outside and take a walk around the neighborhood, explore the park, or go for a nature walk.
Games you can feel good about
If you’re looking for games that offer some benefit to your child’s brain or body, try these: – Word searches – Not only do word searches encourage your child to read, they also help him to build his vocabulary.
– Hangman – A classic game that has been around for decades, hangman is a great way to help your child improve his spelling skills and gain confidence in his abilities.
– Math games – There are lots of math games that can help your child improve his math skills in a fun way.
– Brain games – Brain games can help your child improve his concentration, memory, and focus, which are all important skills for school.
– Fitness games – There are plenty of games designed to help kids stay active, including yoga games, dancing games, sports-themed games (like basketball or soccer), and even apps that let you do mini-workouts at home.
Virtual activities that are actually good for kids
If you’re concerned about too much screen time for your child, virtual activities may not feel very good about. But there are lots of virtual activities that are actually good for kids, including:
– Social media – Social media, like Instagram and Facebook, can actually be good for your child. The key is to make sure that he is using it in a way that’s beneficial.
– Online video games – While most video games aren’t good for your child’s brain, some online video games are designed to be helpful.
– Online shopping – Not what you expected, right? Online shopping is a great way for kids to practice their computer skills, like research skills and typing skills, as well as budget management skills.
– Online learning – There are several websites that offer online learning platforms, including Khan Academy and Code.org.
Organized sports your kids will love
If you want your child to get some screen-free physical activity, consider enrolling him in an organized sports league.
Most organized sports leagues hold games on weeknights or weekends, which means that your child will get plenty of time in between games to rest and recover. If your child is younger and you’re not sure whether he’s ready for organized sports, think about joining a parent or kids’ sports league.
These are often low-key, relaxed leagues that are great for introducing kids to sports.
Tips to make screen time more beneficial for your kiddos
– Limit the amount of time your child is in front of a screen. – Be aware of the types of content your child is using.
– Turn off all notifications on devices.
– Schedule screen-free time.
– Follow a program like the media diet to help you get control of your child’s screen time.
– Use a timer to track screen time.
– Have a family screen time policy.
– Make screen time more beneficial by choosing educational content and apps.
We spend so much time talking about the benefits of reading out loud, but what about the benefits of reading silently? Reading out loud can be a great way to bond with your child, but reading silently is a great way for them to build their literacy skills and explore new worlds. Kids can get a lot of benefits from screen time, but parents also need to be aware of the risks. Make sure to monitor the amount of time your child spends in front of a screen and choose quality content.