4 Activities That Can Help Reduce Your Child’s Screen Time
Digital devices are now part and parcel of everyday life. Today's younger generations are largely comprised of digital natives who have never lived in a world without gadgetry at their fingertips. However, their consequent adeptness and usage of technology have a dark side. According to a 2020 study, screen time—especially when used to scroll through social media—is associated with poor adolescent mental health, manifesting in an increased risk of self-harm, depression, and lower levels of self-esteem. While banning devices completely is not feasible, there are ways to encourage our children to lessen their screen time as much as possible. Here are four activities they can do instead.
They can engage in passion projects
Your kids likely already have interests and hobbies that they care deeply about. If that’s the case, you can leverage one of those fun activities to decrease screen time and challenge your child to create a passion project: a time-bound and goal-oriented endeavour they take responsibility for accomplishing. This project can be about anything they like—writing a short story, starting a vlog, growing a small garden—as long as it’s something that they want to do or learn more about. Encourage your child’s existing interests to help them spend time that doesn’t involve scrolling through their phone.
They can practise yoga
Perhaps you’ve tried a few sun salutations or plank poses yourself. If so, you know that yoga is excellent for strengthening one's mind-body connection and alleviating aches and pains. Letting your kids practise yoga can benefit them in even more ways. It can boost their self-esteem, develop their strength and flexibility, and sharpen their concentration skills.
Of course, teaching your children yoga won’t be as simple as placing a YouTube tutorial in front of them—especially since the point is to avoid screen time. It will be up to you to keep them motivated and cater the yoga poses to their energy levels and capabilities. You can give them challenges, like finding out how long they can hold a pose and inviting them to beat their record in the next session. For extra fun and engagement, try doing some sessions in the garden. Your children might prefer this fun workout and the outdoors to being on their gadgets for hours on end.
They can meditate
App manufacturers today specialise in keeping your children’s eyes glued to the screen via a multitude of distractions. You can counter that by letting your children meditate. Doing meditations can be great for kids, improving their executive function, increasing their empathy, and decreasing their stress hormones. While one of the most popular forms is mindfulness meditation—paying attention to thoughts, feelings, and sensations—you can also try other meditative traditions like Vedic chanting, which will have your child repeating a word they resonate with. Your children will soon learn to value their attention.
They can listen to audiobooks
If your child doesn’t want to lessen their phone usage, you can take a different tack: get them to download an audiobook app instead. This can work even if your child is a reluctant reader—according to a 2021 research report, the link between reading enjoyment and audio is growing. Listening to audiobooks can help spark children's imagination and may help them feel more connected to the world. Our memberships at Listening Books also provide access to over 10,000 audiobooks and read-along titles for children, which can be downloaded via the Libby App or sent as a Postal MP3 CD. Your child may still be using their phone, but they’ll be lessening their screen time and exploring the wonderful world of literature.
Lessening screen time is imperative for the health of our children. Engage their time better by suggesting these four fun activities.
Author: Amelia Christoper
AMELIA CHRISTOPER is a freelance writer intrigued by today's Digital Age and how it's changing all aspects of our lives. Her pieces aim to inform and inspire more people to use technology in ways that improve, but not take away, from how we work and play. In her free time, you'll find her enjoying science fiction books or playing with her two toddlers at the local park.
Editor: Emily Pye