Embracing a More Screen-Free Routine This School Year
As children embark on a new school year, they will be constantly exposed to a variety of tech devices. Yet, an excessive amount of screen time can hinder their development. As caregivers, it’s crucial to strike a balance between tech-related activities and screen-free play, especially as the school year begins.
This blog will discuss the impact of too much screen time for kids, and the importance of screen-free activities in promoting child development!
The Impact of Excessive Screen Time
As kids transition back to school, we want them to feel their best and embrace the longer school days with energy and enthusiasm. This encompasses the importance of a good night’s rest, a positive mood, and overall well-being. Too much screen-time can potentially lead to negative impacts.
Too Much Screen-Time Can Impact Kids' Health & Well-being
In today’s world, children are immersed in technology, often engaging with tablets, cellphones, tech toys, and computers throughout the day. It’s become the norm for screens to occupy a significant portion of their time.
However, it’s vital to recognize that excessive screen time has been associated with a range of negative outcomes, including obesity, disrupted sleep patterns, behavioral challenges, academic setbacks, and reduced physical activity.
Screens Can Hinder a Child’s Social Skills
Moreover, an overreliance on screens can hinder the development of social skills and stifle creative growth, impacting a child’s development. According to one study, elementary students who spend more than two hours a day watching TV, playing video games or using a computer or smartphone are more likely to have emotional, social, and attention problems.
One study found that a group of kids who went without electronic devices for five days were better at recognizing facial emotions and reading nonverbal cues than children who lived life as usual. Decreased screen time can also enhance face-to-face social skills.
The constant distractions of screens can also lead to overstimulation, potentially reducing a child’s desire to engage and socialize with peers.
This concern becomes particularly relevant as the school year starts, requiring children to reestablish their social connections after a long summer break. As they step back into the school environment, fostering genuine social interactions becomes crucial for their personal and academic growth.
Screen-Free Strategies for Better Development
Skip Screens During Dinner
To begin, start by reducing screen time and excluding TVs and iPads during meals. Use this chance to engage in conversations with your child and build connections. Prioritize family time during dinner, rather than focusing on screens and virtual games.
There are more advantages beyond connecting with your child. Families who eat together tend to be healthier. Children from families who share meals often have better academic scores.
Taking this step to minimize screen distractions during meals not only enhances your relationship with your child but also promotes overall well-being and academic success. This minor adjustment in routine can lead to significant benefits for both your child’s growth and family unity.
No Screens During Bedtime
To ensure a smooth transition to better habits, start by avoiding screens before bedtime. This is crucial as screens have been shown to disrupt sleep patterns by overstimulating the brain.
Research has shown a notable difference between kids who watch TV before bedtime and those who don’t. Children that watch TV during bed tend to have higher overall screen time. To counter this trend, it’s beneficial to encourage winding down with calming activities instead. By engaging in relaxing activities before sleep, your child’s mind can ease into a more restorative night’s sleep.
Limit Background TV Noise
Opt for a quiet environment, free from constant TV background noise. This promotes focused engagement in activities, supporting better concentration and cognitive growth.
This skill extends beyond the moment, helping children excel in tasks both inside and outside the classroom.
Embracing Screen-Free Activities
Too many screen based activities can potentially hinder creativity and imagination. To combat this, create a weekly routine for kids to unwind after school with screen-free activities that are fun, educational, and foster creativity.
Pretend Play: Boosting Creativity and Social Skills
Pretend play is a powerful tool for nurturing creativity, language skills, and social development. Encourage kids to explore various roles like doctors, teachers, chefs, and superheroes. Use old clothes, pretend toys, and props to help fuel their creativity.
Art Stations: Unleash Creativity
Create art stations with different materials to awaken your child’s artistic side. Offer markers, stickers, glue sticks, pom poms, feathers, and more. Providing themes like animals, self-portraits, or flowers can help guide their creativity while enhancing fine motor skills.
Mini Science Experiments: Fueling Curiosity
Engage in easy science experiments, such as creating a baking soda volcano. These hands-on experiences provide visual and practical learning opportunities, fostering curiosity and a love for science.
Tracking the Weather: Learning through Observation
Keep a daily weather journal with your child. Observe changes in weather patterns, record temperatures, and watch how nature evolves over time.
This activity cultivates observation skills and an understanding of seasonal changes.
Nature Exploration Crafts: Connecting with Nature
Encourage outdoor exploration through nature walks. Children will connect with nature as they follow the changing seasons, and blooming of different plants. This also stimulates curiosity about the world around them.
Family Game Nights: Quality Bonding Time
Unplug and dedicate a weekly night to family game time. Choose board games, puzzles, or card games that encourage rule-following, social interaction, patience, and cognitive development.
You can also play games that don’t require materials, such as Charades, Simon Says, and mini obstacles courses that use everyday objects. These games also encourage physical activity, something they wouldn’t get with other screen based activities.
Increase Screen-Free Time This School Year
Incorporating screen-free activities into your child’s routine at the beginning of the school year is a wonderful way to ensure holistic development.
By embracing pretend play, art stations, science experiments, nature exploration, and more, you can stimulate creativity, curiosity, physical fitness, and strong family connections. Strive to strike a balance between screen time and screen-free play, and witness the positive impact it has on your child’s growth as they embark on a new academic journey.