The first few years of a child’s life are vital to their brain growth. When kids spend time in front of screens such as a TV, tablet or smartphone their time spent exploring, playing and interacting with others and their environment is decreased. This can have a major impact on their physical and social development. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the age of two years have no screen time and that children two years and older limit their screen time to one to two hours total each day.
Here are some tips for cutting the amount of time your kids spend in front of screens:
- Keep all screens out of bedrooms – this includes fixed screens such as a TV and screens that can travel throughout the house such as a tablet or smartphone. It’s easiest to just make all the bedrooms in your home screen free at all times!
- Set screen time standards for your family – for example screen time is something that kids have to earn after doing all of their chores and homework or after reading for 30 minutes.
- Keep things like books, games, puzzles, coloring books, arts and crafts and toys available where your kids spend the most time so there is always a screen free choice for them to grab.
- Make all meal times screen free – this means turning off the TV while you are eating and putting away all phones and other devices.
Here are some screen free activities that you can have fun with this summer:
- Go on a bike ride or nature walk through the parks and trails in your town
- Have a board game day if the weather isn’t nice enough to be outside – or take your board games outside if the weather is nice!
- Teach your kids how to cook one of their favorite meals
- Look into the summertime events that are offered by your local library, parks and recreation or conservation groups
- Turn on some music and have a dance party – make it more fun by having your kids dress up and letting them pick the music
- Create a scavenger hunt that your kids can do in the house or outside around your neighborhood
- Have your kids write letters and mail them to their family members, friends or classmates
For more tips on limiting screen time and providing screen free activities, visit http://www.iowahealthieststate.com/resources/individuals/5210/parents-and-caregivers/.
Resources: Iowa Healthiest State – 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count