We live in the age of technology. It’s hard to go a few minutes without looking at our phone or tablet to check our email or aimlessly scroll through social media.
As parents, we’re the ones setting examples for our children. So, more often than not they begin to mimic our actions, especially when it comes to screen time. Screen time is any time that is spent in front of a screen, whether it be TVs, computers, tablets, or phones. Naturally, the more screen time your little one has, the less play time they have. It’s important not to forget that children should get at least one hour of physical activity every single day.
There can even be negative side effects that correlate to too much screen time. Psychologist, Dr. Aric Sigman discussed how increased screen time can actually cause permanent damage to children’s developing brains. Parents traditionally encourage concentration, communication, and learning. But with increased screen time, these abilities are hindered.
If you want to help maximize your child’s brain power, it’s critical that you help them develop good habits! This includes setting limits to screen time and encouraging physical activity.
Need some ideas on how to start encouraging play time instead of screen time? Here are some of our Step2 family favorites.
Play With Them
One of the best ways to get children to be active is to do something with them. If you want them to spend time outside, go outside with them and encourage healthy habits. Play with them on the playground or go for a walk! Live in a region where it’s too cold to be outside? Consider bringing in some of their favorite toys indoors so there are always positive alternative options to screen time. When your little one sees mom or dad playing, they will be more motivated to break away from the screen and join you.
Being bored doesn’t have to necessarily be a bad thing. Boredom can often be the perfect solution when it comes to encouraging creative play. When your child is left to come up with a screen-free way to occupy their time, you’ll be amazed by the ideas they come up with. Finding different ways to have fun encourages your child to embrace a level of play that is both educational and fun.
Keep Some Old Toys
While clutter is no one’s idea of a good time, sometimes it can help promote play. Children can often revisit playing with toys that you may have thought they have outgrown. Having items around that promote imaginative play, encourages different play possibilities. If there are no items to play with, how do we expect children to play? So next time you think of purging their previously loved games or play kitchen, think about ways these toys can be used to encourage play time.
Just Say No
While it might not always be ideal, don’t be afraid to say no to screen time. This doesn’t mean that you have to quit technology altogether, but it is important to teach your children about the importance of moderation. Don’t let them try to bargain when they want additional screen time. Stand your ground, and they’ll quickly get used to finding other ways to occupy their time.
Lead by Example
It’s apparent that our children mimic what we do. So, if they always see the adults in their lives using screens, they are more likely to do the same. If you want your child to embrace the idea of putting down the screen, it’s important to lead by example. Put your phone or tablet down when you’re with them and make yourself present. This helps send the message that relationships and time with others are important and should not be ignored.
When in doubt, remember that the less screen time children have, the better. Decreasing time spent in front of electronic devices means more time spent exploring and building relationships with those around them!