Three practical alternatives to screen time … that work!

Story by Stacie Gaetz

Spring 2019

If possible, have your child take part (in an age-appropriate way) in the activity you are doing”

As parents, we’ve all heard about the risks of too much screen time for our children, but how much is too much? 

In a new study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), brain scans revealed that children who have more than two hours of screen time a day got lower scores on tests focused on thinking and language skills. 

If it’s taboo to take my tots to the TV or tablet when I need to get something done without a child attached to my leg or asking me 1,456 questions, what can I do to keep them entertained and encourage them to play independently?  

Here are three practical alternatives to screen time that actually work: 

Get together 

If possible, have your child take part (in an age-appropriate way) in the activity you are doing. If you are cooking or baking, your child can measure and mix. If you are cleaning, give them their own duster. This allows you to spend time together and bond, while getting the job done. 

Get creative 

Depending on your child’s age, there are any number of activities they can do to get their creative juices flowing including: reading; writing a story; drawing; colouring; crafts; puzzles; playing board games or cards, etc. 

Get active 

Take your laptop outside while the kids play in the yard. If the weather doesn’t allow for outdoor fun, take the party inside with an indoor obstacle course or simple games like red light/green light, hide and seek, What Time is it, Mr. Wolf, and other classics. 

Although these are great alternatives, we can’t discount technology altogether. Our children will use electronics their whole lives (more than we ever did) and knowing their way around these devices is important.  

Along with implementing an “everything-in-moderation” approach with limits that work for your family, try watching the show or playing the game with your child whenever possible and talking to them about it afterward. 

According to the NIH study guidelines, “young children learn best when they are re-taught in the real world what they just learned through a screen.” 

Stacie Gaetz loves to tell stories. She thoroughly enjoys her work as a freelance writer and co-owner of Sentiments Photobooks, but her real passion is for her daughter, 4, and son, 2.