As the new school year rolls in, so does the need to balance the time your kids spend on their smartphones, tablets, and other digital devices. But even when your kids get used to screen time rules, when you take their devices, the kids get easily bored. Don’t worry, we have you covered with ideas on what to do instead of spending time tied to the screen.
Minimizing the digital distractions so your child can concentrate on homework and get enough sleep during the night is essential for them to be able to focus on school. And, there is no lack of evidence supporting the need for screen time balance to protect your child’s emotional and physical development.
But, for your screen time plan to be successful in reality you need to plan ahead the alternatives to smartphones, so your kids don’t get bored.
Here are some ideas to get you on the right track.
When the school starts, kids can get easily overwhelmed by the change in structure and lack of freedom. Unstructured time, an interval when your kids can do what they feel like doing plays a vital role in cognitive development, together with creative play-time. During play or free activities, kids develop creative thinking and problem-solving skills. Besides, they get a needed rest from the rules and structure, empowering them to discover new interests.
Taking care of the pet and playing with animals still remains one of the rare activities that can successfully compete with technology. By learning how to take care of their pet, a child can learn a lot about responsibility and always have a play-pal available. If having a dog or a cat is not possible for you, being responsible for a smaller pet like a bird or a turtle still can be more interesting than spending time on the smartphone.
No, not video games but old-fashioned social games like puzzles, brain teasers, board games or guessing games like “I spy.” You can make a pretend shop, school or a doctor’s office, where you can play a role of a customer. Only your and your child’s imagination is the limit when it comes to “pretend” games.
This doesn’t have to involve anything complicated. Learning a magic trick or learning how to juggle can keep your kids occupied and interested long enough, so they don’t even think about the smartphones. Learning skills like these might not be life-changing, but the learning process itself nurtures positive values like perseverance.
If you figure out how to make reading and learning fun for your child, the digital challenges will be a much smaller obstacle later in life. Reading does not have to be a quiet or boring activity. Illustrated encyclopedias about geography or astronomy you read with your child, for example, can plant a seed of a life-long passion.
You can later explore new places and ideas you read about or visit a museum or an exhibition together.
Physical activity is essential for the development of fine motor skills and overall health of your children. Aside from the sport-related activities they have in school, you can nurture kids’ interest in sports by visiting a sports event or just by playing a game in your backyard. Discovering which sports your kids like can be an interesting experience, too. There are over 30 unique sports only in the summer Olympics, your kid is bound to like at least some of them.
Young kids and toddlers value the time they can spend with you more than their devices. Make your time together even more engaging with some of these activities:
Screen time alternative activities like these help you deal with boredom. But they offer a chance for something much more important, too. The bonding experience and the time you spend interacting with your kids in a creative way is the key ingredient to make smartphones and digital distractions less appealing.
Nikolina is a psychologist (BSc) and a school counsellor. She focuses on writing about childhood development and other mental health topics in an easy-to-understand and fact-based manner. Nikolina’s writing about mental health matters relies on acceptance and mindfulness-based psychotherapy approaches.
The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.