All the studies are crystal clear. Kids today watch too much digital media. Whether it's the TV, mom or dad's smartphone, the tablet or a video game console, kids today spend almost as much time with screens as parents spend at work during a 7 day week! Let's face it, it's a GREAT way to practically eliminate boredom with your kids. Whether you need your 2 year old to sit quietly so you can make dinner, or your 10 year old playing video games while you have some grownup time with your spouse, digital media is a great way to keep your kids engaged and occupied so you can get on with your day/night/road trip/chores/grown-up conversation (insert social occasion here)....OK, so we know we need to unplug our kids from digital media...but then what? How do we deal with or prevent the inevitable tantrum? Think about how you feel when you can't find your phone (as an adult) and the panic that sets in until you find it. Now, imagine a child's ability to cope with a similar situation of having their digital media "confiscated". It's up to parents to offer our kids an alternative to keep them engaged, occupied and hopefully enriched too!
Here are 5 ways to unplug your kids from digital media and encourage them to play, imagine and create:
1) Coloring activities - whether it's washable markers for your 2-year-old or mindful coloring for teens, it's a fantastic, inexpensive easy way to provide an alternative to the screen. Provide themes or topics for them to draw and color, such as "my favorite zoo animals" or trace body parts, name them and color them in.
2) Woodshop Craft activity kits - this is a MUST for busy parents who don't have the time to pick out crafty items and come up with a themed project on their own (that's totally me!). These kits come with everything you need and have themes that are imaginative, foster creativity and even develop focus and fine motor skill in kids of all ages. Woodshop crafts offer a natural medium to build and decorate with everything from markers, to paint, glitter and stickers to create a customized masterpiece your kids are proud of.
3) Painting activities – Canvas, sculpts, rocks, cardboard, decoupage and Paper Mache, parents know kids can paint on just about anything (your walls, furniture or pets!). From watercolor, finger paints to good old acrylic paints, mixing, matching and mashing it up, paint is a wonderfully creative medium that engages children for hours of fun. Provide coloring mixing charts so kids can make their own colors. Provide themes and use household items like toilet paper rolls and plastic cups to add dimension to their creations. These DIY Paint Your Own kits are a fun activity to get your child's painting activity started!
4) DIY Crafts kits - Another lifesaver for multitasking moms who don't have time to put arts and crafts projects together themselves. There are kits from birdhouses to stepping stones, crystal lights and sun catchers to paint your own character coin banks! There are dozens of options that keep kids focused and entertained, and are stress-free for parents!
5) Circuit building kits – these are fantastic for introducing the concept of electricity to older kids while incorporating craft activities that are fun and foster creativity. With these kits, you can build, decorate and customize your creation. These kits come with copper tape and LEDs so kids can create a closed circuit and light up their creations! They are hands-on, offering tactile engagement and the opportunity to learn about how electrical circuits work.
Our recommendation is to offer these activities up to your kids as soon as they arrive home from school or get up on the weekend to curb or even eliminate the request for TV, video games, YouTube or smartphones before the idea even creeps into their developing minds! Go ahead, unplug and play to foster creativity and for happy screen free kids!