Things have changed a lot since you were a kid. While you probably spent most of your free time playing outside, riding your bike to a friend’s house and exploring your neighborhood, today’s kids are spending an average of 53 hours per week glued to their electronic devices. Yes — you read that right. According to research, kids between the ages of 8 and 18 spend an average of more than seven hours per day staring at screens. And, unfortunately, all of that screen time is not a good thing. While technology isn’t inherently bad, kids and teens who spend most of their days staring at phones, tablets, computers and video games have more sedentary lifestyles and are at increased risk of obesity. And that is only one of the problems associated with too much screen time.
The good news?
There are many ways to get your child to unplug and spend less time on their phone and other devices. From setting limits on electronics use to doing crafts like diamond painting for kids together as a family instead of wasting time on social media, here are a few activities to keep your child off their phone.
Take Up Diamond Painting
Diamond painting has only been around for a few years but has quickly become a favorite hobby among millions of people. Appropriate for people of all ages and skill levels, it is a great way to pass the time without the distraction of electronic devices.
When you buy a high-quality diamond art kit, it comes with everything your child needs to create a sparkly work of art. The kits come in a wide variety of designs, so it’s easy to find something your child will enjoy. Completing the kit requires no special skills and enables even those who aren’t so artistically inclined to create display-worthy masterpieces. This hobby is both relaxing and rewarding, and it encourages kids to focus on something other than their electronic devices.
Teach Them the Outdoor Games of Your Youth
Chances are, you have fond memories of playing games with your friends and siblings as a child. While classics like tag and hopscotch have fallen out of favor as kids have increasingly turned to electronics, they are still a lot of fun. These no-tech activities are a great way to pull your kids away from their devices for a little while and get them up and moving. And while you might hear some groaning in the beginning, your kids will likely enjoy them a lot more than they think.
Need some inspiration? Click here to discover 30 classic outdoor games for kids. You might even stumble on a forgotten old favorite.
Or Teach Them Card Games
Playing outside is great. Unfortunately, the weather does not always cooperate. The next time your little ones are stuck inside on a rainy day, teach them a classic card game like Crazy Eights, Old Maid or Go Fish. Sure, today’s kids can play all of these games (and many others) on their phones and tablets. But there is just something special about gathering around the kitchen table and playing cards face-to-face with friends and family members.
Implement a Rewards System
Instead of letting your kids use their devices from the time they wake up until they go to bed, come up with a rewards system to make them earn screen time. For example, let them use their electronic devices for 30 minutes for every two hours they spend playing outside or reading. You can also offer up additional rewards for things like putting their laundry away, cleaning their room or helping you prepare dinner.
Come up with a rewards system that works for your family — and be consistent with it. Your kids should know exactly how much screen time they can earn for various tasks and activities to avoid frustration and ensure that everyone in the family is on the same page.
Send Them on Scavenger Hunts
Sending your kid on a scavenger hunt is a great way to keep their phone out of their hands and their mind engaged. The great thing about this activity is that it’s suitable for kids of all ages. If you have a toddler or young child, you can keep things simple by asking them to find something blue, something used for eating, etc. You can make the hunt trickier for older kids by using riddles as clues to describe what they need to find.
Making it a photo hunt is a fun twist on the traditional scavenger hunt. Give your child an older digital camera (not a cell phone!) and ask them to find specific things to photograph. You could request photos of particular types of trees or plants, animals or objects that fit specific themes. You just might be surprised at the creative shots your kids capture. Who knows? You could discover that you have a talented shutterbug living under your roof.
Come Up with Activities Together
If you’ve been suggesting tech-free activities with your kids and mostly getting eye rolls and groans in response, don’t give up! Instead, sit down with them and ask for their input. Suggest some activities to get the ball rolling and find out if they have any ideas of their own. You might be surprised to learn that your video game whiz has been dying to play a game of mini-golf or visit an art museum. Kids are full of surprises! You just have to take the time to listen.
Electronic devices aren’t necessarily bad. However, spending too much time using them can be detrimental to your child’s well-being. While they likely need to use electronics for their schoolwork, they don’t need to spend every free moment staring at a screen. Try the suggestions above to get your child to unplug and break free of their addictive gadgets.