I remember as a young mom when I would struggle to limit screen time, and that was nearly two decades ago.
Back then, I mostly worried about TVs and videos (Baby Mozart was a common tool for me to squeeze in a short workout), but today’s young moms have to manage cell phones, laptops, tablets, and YouTube videos!
My heart aches even more so for those moms that are parenting young children during the time of Covid-19.
I was thrilled when my Nurture intern, Radka, offered to write a guest blog post offering some tips for parents who are struggling with finding more meaningful (non-screen) activities to keep them happily occupied.
I hope you enjoy these five tips/activities that will allow you to limit your child’s screen time in FUN ways.
Guest post written by Radka Pribyl Pierdinock
Today many kids Zoom-in to class and use Zoom for playdates. All behind a screen! We must be aware of how much this screen time could be detrimental to the development of a child.
Children do not know how to truly socially interact with one another when they spend hours hidden behind a screen.
Although many activities have been canceled because of Covid-19, there are other ways for your children to interact other than screen time. Here are my five favorite tips to reduce screen time for your children.
1. Get them outside.
Playing outside is a wonderous thing for every child. When playing outside the child has access to vitamin D from the sun. Vitamin D helps build stronger bones and helps decrease the chance of chronic disease. The outside is also open to an infinite amount of creativity for your child. Thousands of games are waiting to be played and also waiting to be invented. Therefore, outdoor play allows for cognitive and social/emotional development.
Lastly, outdoor play improves sensory skills. When kids are glued to a screen, they are only using their sight and hearing sense, whereas when kids are outside, they are also utilizing their sense of touch, sense of smell, and maybe even their sense of taste (hopefully not tasting dirt) too!
2. Introduce them to creative activities inside.
Sometimes Mother Nature is not on your side. Rain, snowstorm, or even a hot day can prevent your child from going outside, but that doesn’t mean that you must succumb to a day filled with your child using screens. Instead, encourage your child to bring their imagination inside. Create a secret hideaway with pillows and blankets, experiment with different ingredients in the kitchen, imagine that you are artists in Paris innovating new masterpieces. Another great way to have your kids interact inside is with board games and cards.
3. Limit your screen time.
Children model their guardians’ behavior. If you are always on your phone, they see that and then think that they too can always be on their screen. It is important when you are not working to put away the phone and other screens because your child will want to mimic every action that you do.
4. Turn the WIFI off.
If your child is still glued to the screen, try turning the WIFI off. By turning the WIFI off, this is officially enabling your child to participate in a game that does not involve a screen.
5. Take your children to the Public Library.
It is extremely important for the development of children to be exposed to books. Reading has many crucial cognitive and health benefits. An improved memory, an increased vocabulary, and a reduction in chances of developing Alzheimer’s are all benefits that reading provides. I encourage you to take your child to the library and replace screen time with reading time!
You can even use this time to lay the foundation for healthy habits for your child. Reading books (about eating healthy fruits and veggies) like the Give It a Go, Eat a Rainbow series can be fun for both adults and children. The resource page has color and cut-out activities for the characters in the book. Add popsicle sticks and make puppets out of the characters for on-going fun!
Hopefully, these five tips will help you reduce your child’s screen time.
Enjoy the outside, creativity, and other activities that do not involve a screen. If you are looking for 30-days worth of activities (including recipes) that you can do with your child at home, this page has a 30 Days of Family Fun Calendar with free downloads.
Richtel, Matt. “Children’s Screen Time Has Soared in the Pandemic, Alarming Parents and Researchers.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 16 Jan. 2021.
Lund, Danae. “Top 5 Benefits of Children Playing Outside.” Sanford Health News, 10 Aug. 2020, news.sanfordhealth.org/childrens/play-outside/.