Screen-Free Activities for Kids That Reduce Screen Time

Siblings using phones, tab and video game seating on sofa

It seems like everything for kids is on a screen nowadays, and while that’s certainly more convenient, it’s just not healthy. Excessive screen use has been linked to a sedentary lifestyle. Higher rates of anxiety, depression, confidence issues, and social withdrawal. The best way to remedy this is by giving your children screen-free activities. While this is a major lifestyle change, it is a doable one. So we’ve put together a quick guide that’ll help you to get started!

How Much Is Too Much?

Boy watching movie on tab laying on bed

Recent studies have shown that kids and teens are using screens now more than ever. With teenagers specifically averaging out at a shockingly high 7-8 hours per day. Now, this is obviously far too much, but where should you as a parent draw the line? As with most parenting matters, there’s no one-size-fits-all all answer. But generally speaking, the younger the child, the less screen time they should have. 

Before age 2 or so, you should keep screen time to a minimum, instead allowing your child to grow and develop by interacting with the real world. Once they’re a bit older, you can start introducing screens, but keep exposure limited. Though you may want to go a bit higher or lower, try to keep screen time at or below 1 ½-2 hours a day. Once they’ve hit their teenage years, you may be considering getting them their own device, but be sure to monitor it carefully. Using parental control apps, you can set devices to restrict your child’s screen time automatically. We recommend keeping screen time for teens below 2 hours a day if possible, though you could bump that limit up to three if necessary.

Keep in mind that these are all soft guidelines, and your child’s actual needs may differ. Ultimately, the best way to tell whether or not they’re getting too much screen time is to continue watching and interacting with them. Are they using screens for comfort at the cost of real, human connections? Have they become restless, less sociable, or more irritable since they started using screens? If you answered yes to those or similar questions. It may be time to have a frank family conversation about rolling back screen time. 

How to Pick the Best Screen-Free Activities

Girl browsing smartphone at table

Of course, you can’t just hope to take away your child’s screen time and have everything go smoothly. There’s also a fair amount of effort on your part. In order to keep them from picking the screens up again. You need to present your children with things to do without electronics. There is, once again, no one-size-fits-all solution here. The perfect alternative will vary depending on your children’s age and interests. 

For example, if you have a teenager with an interest in animals, they’d probably love volunteering at a local animal shelter and playing with the animals there. If you’ve got a young child with an interest in the outdoors, they’ll thrill to receive a bug-catching kit that they can use to explore the world around them. You may not be able to find the perfect screen alternative at first, but once you do, it all becomes worth it, so keep looking for as long as it takes!

Screen-Free Outdoor Activities

kids with backpacks spending time in nature outdoors doing screen-free activities

For kids and teens that enjoy more outdoorsy activities, we have a few recommendations, so feel free to take a look!

  • Play outdoor games. For younger kids, outdoor games like tag, hopscotch, and catch are a great way to spend an afternoon. If your child is old enough, putting down the screen to pick up a sport is a great way to stay engaged, outside, and healthy.
  • Go for a hike. Hiking is one of our favorite screen-free activities for adults and kids alike. Next time you and your kiddos get the chance, try taking them for a day out in nature and see what they think! If they enjoy it, you can start going on longer hikes and camping trips, allowing for less time on the internet and more time living in the moment.

Screen-Free Indoor Activities

screen-free activities: Kid playing chess

Of course, this article wouldn’t be complete without some advice for families that prefer to stay indoors, so we’ve got you covered!

  • Have a board game night. Board gaming is a great hobby for any family to pick up. Not only does it get everyone away from the screens for a few hours, but it gives the family time to chat, enjoy themselves, and ultimately grow closer. For families with young children, basic board games like Candy Land and Snakes and Ladders are perfect, but if you’ve got teenage board game enthusiasts in the family, we recommend something more complex and long-term like Dungeons & Dragons.
  • Hold a family book club. This activity can be done long-term with a variety of books. It’s a great way for families to learn more about the world and about each other, and helps children expand their intellectual horizons without any need for the internet.

Looking for more great tips, tricks, and products to keep your kids entertained without screens? Feel free to visit our site at ToysCentral today!

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