The Pandemic dramatically increased screen time for our kids:
Before the Pandemic, kids already spent a lot of time watching screens, including smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles, TVs, and computers. Then the Pandemic hit. Schools closed, kids were stuck at home, and their time on their devices increased dramatically as kids used the devices for social interactions, remote learning, a cure for boredom, and more.
Was all that screen time harmful to our Kids?
Much of the screen time was necessary for learning and social interaction because of the Pandemic. However, something to consider, early data from a landmark National Institutes of Health (NIH) study that began in 2018 indicates that children who spent more than two hours a day on screen-time activities scored lower on language and thinking tests. Some children with more than seven hours a day of screen time experienced thinning of the brain’s cortex. The cortex is the part of the brain involved in critical thinking and reasoning. This is also the part of the brain that helps kids regulate their emotions.
What are some of the potentially detrimental effects of too much screen time?
- Lower language and thinking test scores*
- Thinning of the brain’s cortex (the part of the brain involved in critical thinking and reasoning.)*
- Sleep problems – screens before bed decrease levels of melatonin, the sleep chemical.
- Inhibition of a child’s ability to observe and experience the typical everyday activities they need to engage in, which teach them about the world.
- They may read fewer books.
- They may be less engaged in social interactions with their siblings and family. A child under 2 learns best by exploring his world and watching another person, not a video.
- A lot of sedentary screen time may lead to obesity and weight problem
I want to invite you to limit the screen time and instead spend some quality time with your kids:
I know that may be a tough challenge as the screens have been your kids’ learning, social, entertainment, and boredom-buster devices. Now, what will you and they do when the screens go dark?
Once the screens are off – Be warned; your kids may expect you to be in charge of finding ways for them to keep from getting bored. Also, they may expect you to take your advice and turn off your screens. Nearly 40 percent of children say that mom and dad are on their phone or digital device too much. I’ve devised 25 ways to get you started spending quality time with them after the devices go off.
Dr. Joanette’s suggestions and ideas for spending quality time with your kids.
Mom or Dad: Write down these ideas on paper and put them into a jar labeled Quality Time Instead of Screen Time. Have your child pick an activity from the jar, then do it together.
- Have a Pokeman Stuffies Tea Party
- Go to the backyard and look for four-leaf clovers
- Play, “The Floor is Lava.”
- Make some bubble mix and blow bubbles:
Mix in a bowl:
1 cup of water
¼ cup liquid dish soap (Dawn or Joy work best)
2 Tbsp. Light Karo Syrup
Your kids will love how thick the mixture is and how easily they can blow lots of bubbles.
- Make a giant indoor obstacle course
- Build a fort out of blankets, chairs, and pillows
- Snuggle up on the couch and read the Giggles in My Heart Books https://amzn.to/3wTvU4I
- Make Paper Bag Puppets and create a puppet show
- Play a game together
- Make rainbow waffles and eat them for the next meal.
- Be a movie star and star in your home-created movie.
- Choose the costume (old Halloween costumes are great)
- Write the Script
- Act out the parts
- Film the actors on your cell phone
- Use the imovies app to produce the movie.
- Make some popcorn and enjoy your home movie
- Build something together with legos or Duplos.
- Go camping in the living room or backyard, complete with smores. If you don’t have a fire to roast the marshmallow, microwave the marshmallow for 8-10 seconds)
- Design and go on an indoor or outdoor treasure hunt.
- Make Yogurt and Strawberry (or any berry) Unicorn popsicles
- Make a Unicorn Wind Socks https://youtu.be/_I3Hft0g_Sk
- Make melted monster bites
- Have an indoor picnic with rainbow bread
- Make some playdough: (here is a video for how to) https://youtu.be/Xi8Q_Rl3ojk.
- Turn your sidewalk or patio into a Picasso with sidewalk chalk
- Blow up some balloons for a game of indoor balloon volleyball.
- Play Tag
- Play indoor or outside Hide and Seek
- Play Follow the Leader
- Make paper airplanes or paper boats.
Now that I’ve started a list brainstorm with your kids to develop more ideas to add to the jar.
Remember, Quality Time with you is what your kids want Every Time!
* Early data from a landmark National Institutes of Health (NIH) study that began in 2018 indicates that children who spent more than two hours a day on screen-time activities scored lower on language and thinking tests, and some children with more than seven hours a day of screen time experienced thinning of the brain’s cortex. The cortex is the part of the brain involved in critical thinking and reasoning