Now Enrolling Summer Adventures!

Blog

Kid hiding behind digital tablet with empty screen over yellow studio background.
MCCA
Back

Get Kids Moving: Fun Evening Activities to Replace Screen Time

The CDC says that kids between 8 and 18 spend about 7.5 hours a day in front of a computer. Both parents and those who work at any Silver Spring child care center will tell you that is a lot of time spent behind a computer, sitting and staring at a screen. It’s easier than you think to bring that number down, though.

How do you begin? The first thing is to know how much time your kids spend on screens. The American Academy of Pediatrics has new guidelines for how much time kids should spend in front of a screen:

  • Under 18 months: No time should be spent in front of screens unless video chatting.
  • 18 to 24 months: Limit their screen time to educational shows and movies.
  • Ages 2 to 5: Cut screen time to an hour a day while watching media with someone else.
  • 6 years and up: There is no set age limit, but set regular limits on how much time is spent on media, what kinds of media are used, and where media use happens.
  • Teens and Tweens: There is no set limit, but talk to your kids about how much they use media and who they are talking to.

Remember that these numbers are just suggestions, the main goal is to have a good relationship with computers. As with everything else in life, too much of anything can cause issues. Cutting back on screen time is a process that will only happen gradually, so don’t worry if the suggestions seem impossible to follow. You now know how much time you spend in front of a screen. What can you do to start cutting back?

Should Screen Time Be Limited?

While most parents think the obvious answer to this question is yes, the actual effects of kids’ screen time are still being discussed. But many experts, schools, and health groups, like the World Health Organization, say kids should limit their screen time.

Others have a more balanced view. They say that kids can benefit from screen time and that parents should focus on what their kids do on computers instead of how often they do it. Oxford University polled more than 20,000 parents and found that limiting a child’s screen time may not affect their ability to do well in school.

The study suggested that parents worried about their kids’ technology use should work on finding a good balance between too little and too much technology use.

kids with different devices on color background, top view

How Long Should You Have No Screen Time Before Bed?

Stopping tasks that involve screens at least an hour before bed helps your brain relax and tells your body it’s time to sleep. Those who work in child care in Silver Spring, MD say that adding an extra 90 minutes or two hours can have even bigger effects.

What are Some Alternatives to Screen Time for Kids?

Puzzles, reading, playing board games, playing outside, and spending time with family or friends are all healthy things that your family can do instead of being on a computer.

Reading

Reading books is a much more relaxed way to pass the time and enjoy stories. Kids can have fun with fact books, kid-friendly stories, and magazines. Reading can also help them relax and wind down, especially before bed.

potrait of mother and daughter enjoying play with bubble outdoor in beautiful sunset

Outdoor Play

Playing outside benefits children’s physical health and has also been shown to affect their emotional well-being positively. Spending time outside does not require extensive planning; it can be as simple as taking a detour through a nearby green space on the way to school or as involved as holding a bug safari in your garden. Spending any amount of time outside helps children become more engaged with the world around them.

Building

The development of children’s creative abilities, motor skills, and problem-solving abilities are all fostered through constructive play. To top it all off, building toys are incredibly long-lasting and appealing to people of all ages, providing hours upon hours of entertainment.

Family Meals

During family meals, everyone should put away their devices and focus on eating and talking to each other. Some studies show most families watch TV while they eat dinner. As a break, ensure meals are always spent without a computer. Researchers have found that meals without screens lead to better relationships, healthier food choices, and a lower chance of becoming overweight.

kid plying with toy airplane outside.

Treasure Hunt

A scavenger hunt is sure to get your bored child excited. You have to plan ahead to hide things and leave clues, but it’s a cheap game you can do at home or outside. It also gets them moving and helps them learn how to solve problems.

Coloring

Coloring is a good thing to do with your child if you want to keep them quiet and busy for a while. Coloring books that aren’t too expensive and freebies you can get online for free are easy to find. You can find something your child likes, whether they like dinosaurs, fairies, horses, cars, or animals.

Collage Making

Putting pictures from newspapers and magazines, photos, pieces of material, or leaves on paper is an easy craft project. Kids in this age range can improve their cutting skills by making a collage. It’s also fun to help your child learn about different colors and textures.

Playdough

Toddlers can be creative with playdough, whether they buy it or make their own, which most people have the ingredients on hand. It also helps them improve their hand-eye coordination. It also makes their hands and fingers more flexible, allowing them to learn to write and draw later.

Dress Up

This is a great thing to do on a wet day. It’s not always necessary to buy expensive clothes to dress up. Put together a group of old hats, scarves, shirts, dresses, and other props and decorations. Your child can use their mind and show how they feel by pretending to be different people.

mom and child painting together

Painting

Young children enjoy painting with their fingers, potato prints, rolling marbles, painting with leaves, and just being creative on a blank piece of paper. Painting is fun and can help you focus and become more coordinated between your hands and eyes. By playing music while they paint, they can make the space calm and peaceful.

Final Thoughts

People who work at the day care in Silver Spring, MD will tell you that feeling guilty or ashamed about letting your kids use screens for a little while is unnecessary. There are many clear benefits to planning times for fun without screens. Kids can discover other things when they are not looking at screens. Some of these are nature, making friends, and creating things with their hands. This is why some parents keep a list of fun and rewarding things they can do every day. It helps them remember that there are other activities besides staring at screens.

132 0