Why does screen-time matter?
Screen-time consists of watching television, using a computer, tablet, cell phone or video game. In our technologically-advanced society, it’s popular to use one or more of these gadgets daily. Let’s be real, some of us use several at the same time! But I digress.
Anyway, many parents introduce electronic gadgets to their children as a means of education and entertainment. There are high-quality cartoons, websites, programs, and apps where babies as young as 18 months can learn basic preschool concepts. The unlimited wealth of information grows from there. While we desire technically-literate children in our evolving society and aim to support any future software engineers we might be raising, we must also be mindful of overusing screen-time.
Are kids overusing electronic gadgets?
Is there such a thing as “too much” screen-time? There is growing research that supports how the overuse of screens is harmful to children. The most common health issues related to too much screen time include vision problems, loss of social skills, obesity, sleep deprivation, aggressiveness and addiction to screens. Shortened attention spans and difficulty focusing is also attributed to the overuse of screens in school-aged children. To find a better screen time balance for you family, visit the AAP’s online tool and create a media plan for your children that provides clear, consistent guidelines on how you want media to be used in your household.
Now that we have identified why a balance of screen time is important, it’s time to provide fun alternatives for when the screens are off.
10 activities to replace screen-time:
- Clean! You have kids! There’s a 90% chance that you have a mess somewhere. Why not have them help get things back in order?
- Read a book! There are many benefits to reading, like improving concentration, vocabulary, and language skills, to name a few. Have them stimulate their imagination while becoming a better reader!
- Visit family and friends. The art of creating and cultivating real life relationships can become lost when the phone/computer becomes their main way of communicating. Help them to nurture real-life relationships.
- Play with a water table. Create a water table by simply placing bath toys in a shallow plastic bin. You’ll be surprised at how therapeutic this can be for kids. Many older kids still love water-play.
- Draw, color, or paint. There may be a hidden Picasso inside of your child that you never knew about. Expose them to a variety of art materials and watch their natural talents flourish.
- Build something. Awaken your child’s inner engineer! Kids can do STEM activities right in your home with a few simple household items. Marshmallows and toothpicks, string and cereal, strainer and uncooked spaghetti, and even Legos to name a few.
- Play with games and puzzles. Foster concentration and attention span along with social-emotional skills. This is a great opportunity for kids to practice sportsmanship.
- Start a new hobby. Does your child enjoy dance, crafts, bugs, acts of kindness? Find out what they enjoy and make a hobby out of it.9. Experiment with slime or play dough. These activities stimulate the sensory and fine motor skills.10. Explore idle time. This gives the brain a break and opens the door to creativity and imagination. Feeding the imagination provides kids the opportunity to create something they never knew they could.
May a healthy screen-time balance be yours always.💜