Balancing Screen Time

Even in normal times, it can be easy to let screens and technology dominate our lives, and right now, it’s even easier.  During the coronavirus pandemic, as our daily lives have become more digital, kids not only need to use technology for schoolwork, therapy, or camps and classes,  it’s also often their means for social connection with family members and friends. A number of studies have demonstrated that increased screen time can negatively affect children’s mood, sleep and concentration.  Now more than ever, it is important that families balance screen time with non-tech, screen-free activities.

Here’s a few ideas for some low-tech family time:

Have a weekly game night: Pull out some classic board or card games, or try no-cost games like charades,  “Would You Rather?”  or a storytelling game like this “Pass the Story” here.

Go for a walk or try a neighborhood scavenger hunt: Take a nature walk in a local preserve or walk the sidewalks of your neighborhood. You can find some free printable scavenger hunts here. Or, join forces with your neighbors to create your own- each family can write a clue and display an item in their windows or yards.

Work on a jigsaw puzzle together- it’s great for fine motor skills and developing visual closure, a foundational skill for fluency and speed in reading and spelling.

If you have some outside space, picking up family gardening is a great bonding activity and an excellent way to brighten up your backyard while getting fresh air and sunshine.

Start a parent-child or kid’s book club- A book clubpromotes reading, critical thinking and discussion skills and is especially good in the summer to help prevent learning loss. Members can maintain social distancing by meeting online every few weeks to discuss their latest read. Get info on how to start a parent-child book club here.

Amid difficult circumstances, trying some of these activities can be a fun way to relieve stress and bring the family together for an hour or two.