Remember the days when it would be almost impossible to get the kids to come in to eat dinner? Those days are a thing of the past. Today, many kids prefer to spend their time indoors in front of a screen: TV, computer, tablet, video game, cell phone.
There are times when these devices are good for kids to use, and they are a good way to keep the kids entertained, but too much screen time can have a negative impact. It can affect their quality of sleep, lead to behavioural issues such as increased aggression and it can lead to obesity.
How much is too much screen time?
Kids are spending more time than ever looking at screens. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “a recent study shows that the average 8- to 10-year-old spends nearly 8 hours a day with different media, and older children and teens spend more than 11 hours per day. Kids who have a TV in their bedroom spend more time with media. About 75 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds own cell phones, and nearly all teenagers use text messaging.”
What is the recommended amount of screen time for children? The Academy believes entertainment screen time should be limited to two hours per day, and for children under 2, screen media exposure should be discouraged altogether.
To reduce the amount of time kids spend in front of a screen, it’s important to have other, screen-free activities that will engage them and keep them occupied.
10 screen-free activities for kids
Here are some great screen-free activities to help your kids pass the time:
- Homework: While it’s probably not the favourite on the list, doing homework is a must during the school year.
- Read: Take your children to the local library or bookstore and let them pick out a book they want to read.
- Help with dinner: Let your kids help you prepare meals. It’s a fun family activity, and your kids will learn how to cook and become more independent.
- Bike ride: Plan a family bike ride on some bike paths in your area.
- Chores: Assigning chores teaches responsibility, and you could even use these chores as a means for your kids to earn screen time.
- Play with the pets: All pets need attention. Play ball with the dog, take the dog for a walk or spend time playing with the cat. They will love it.
- Puzzles and board games: These are great activities for kids of all ages. Board games can be fun, educational and engaging.
- Get a basketball hoop: Having a basketball hoop in the driveway is a great way to get the kids outside and be active. If they love a sport, give them the opportunity to play it.
- Join a club: Whether it’s playing a sport, dancing, joining a book club or scouts, or even joining a gym, getting your kids involved in after school activities will keep them busy.
- Arts and crafts: Create an art station, stock it up with markers, colouring books and other art supplies and watch your child’s creativity come to life.
These are just some of the activities your kids can do to spend less time in front of a screen.