5 Ways to Turn Screen Time Into Quality Time

It's no secret that kids today spend a lot of time in front of screens. According to a report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, kids aged 8-18 spend an average of seven hours and 38 minutes using entertainment media each day. That's a lot of time spent staring at screens!

But it doesn't have to be all bad. There are ways that you can turn screen time into quality time for your family. We'll talk about five ideas to help your kids turn their mindless screen time into something more stimulating and, dare we say, potentially more educating as well! Fun games like cornhole and just spending time outside are perfect for all kids!

First though, let's take a look at why we think it's important to limit screen time for your kids, especially the youngest ones.

The dangers of too much screen time

In today's world, it's almost impossible to avoid screens. They're everywhere we look, from the TVs in our homes to the smartphones in our pockets. And while a certain amount of screen time can be educational and entertaining for children, too much time spent staring at screens can have negative effects on their health. We'll take a look at some of the ways excessive screen time can impact children's physical and mental health.

Excessive screen time has been linked to a number of negative health effects in children. These include obesity, poor sleep habits, social anxiety, and problems with behavior and attention span. Let's take a closer look at each of these effects.

Obesity: One of the most well-known risks associated with excessive screen time is obesity. This is because when children are spending too much time in front of screens, they're not getting enough physical activity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood obesity rates have more than tripled in the last three decades. And while there are many factors that contribute to obesity, studies have shown that too much screen time can increase a child's risk of becoming obese.

Poor Sleep Habits: Another potential effect of excessive screen time is poor sleep habits. This is because the blue light emitted by screens can disrupt our natural sleep patterns. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that children ages 6-17 should get 9-11 hours of sleep per night. But according to a survey by Common Sense Media, more than half of all teenagers are not getting enough sleep because they're spending too much time on their phones after lights out. This lack of sleep can lead to tiredness during the day and problems with focus and concentration.

Social Anxiety: Another potential issue associated with excessive screen time is social anxiety. This is because when children spend too much time alone with screens, they miss out on important opportunities to interact with other people and develop social skills. Social anxiety can lead to difficulty making friends, problems in school, and isolation from others.

Problems With Behavior and Attention Span: Excessive screen time has also been linked to problems with behavior and attention span in children. Studies have shown that children who spend too much time looking at screens tend to have shorter attention spans and are more likely to act out or exhibit disruptive behaviors. This can be especially problematic for children who already have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

As you can see, there are many potential negative effects of excessive screen time on children's health. If you're concerned about your child's screen time habits, there are a few things you can do to limit their screen time. First, make sure your child is getting enough physical activity every day by setting aside some time for them to play outside or participate in organized sports. Second, establish rules about when and where screens can be used in your home so that they're not used excessively or interfere with sleep habits. Finally, encourage your child to engage in other activities that don't involve screens so that they have opportunities to interact with other people and develop important social skills.

How to Ditch The Screens

One way to turn screen time into quality time is to play games together as a family. There are tons of great games out there that the whole family can enjoy, and once upon time when there were no video games we all enjoyed playing just...games! No video needed. It's great to introduce these non-digital games to your children because they offer a great alternative to looking at screens, but they're also games that don't usually require electricity or equipment, beyond a deck of cards or the board game itself. This comes in handy in power outages, or while camping or on a road trip. If you can only have fun when you're plugged into power with expensive equipment, you're not always going to be able to have fun, and that's no good.

Fun Games To Play With Your Family

There are a ton of non-screen games to play with your family, or that your kids can play amongst themselves or with neighbors and friends. Tag, while simply and kind of silly, is always fun. Capture the flag, or kick the can are great old school neighborhood games that kids would love to play now. Whiffle ball, pick-up basketball, flag football, 5-a-side soccer, frisbee...pretty much any simple sport is an absolutely great option with so many benefits over scrolling through your phone or playing a video game system.

kids outside playing cornhole

Get your kids involved in some of the games you love to play as well. As adults, we don't often get the opportunity to get together outside with 10 of our friends to play "real" sports, but we certainly spend time with a couple of our buddies playing games like cornhole. Maybe we take the beer drinking out of the equation when we play with our kids, but they can still learn the game and have a blast playing with you. Cornhole is the perfect game to give your kids some much needed exercise.

The point is, any time you can get your kid out of the house and interacting with other people in real life, it's good. There are definite benefits to children learning how to use technology and play video games, or watch documentaries, or get exposed to new things they'd never see without the internet. But learning how to just get along with people and use their bodies is so important, and it's critical to foster that outside of the 45 minutes of PE your kid may get a few times a week.

Make Meals Together

Another way to turn screen time into quality time is by making meals together as a family. You can have each person in the family choose their favorite recipe, then take turns cooking and cleaning up. This is a great way to teach kids about healthy eating and where food comes from, all while spending some quality time together. And who knows - you might even discover a new family favorite recipe in the process!

When it comes to letting your kids help you in the kitchen, it's often best to keep it simple. For example, they could wash vegetables, take off any grocery store stickers, unpack bags, etc. If you're confident in awareness around sharp objectives, peeling potatoes or vegetables is a great intermediary step before getting to working with knives. Once they're ready, under your supervision, they can start to chop up ingredients and learn some good knife technique!

Another great option is measuring ingredients. This can help kids learn to read recipes, which honestly can be a little confusing sometimes, and it's great exposure to using math in the real world. Not that you way to turn making cookies into a lesson on fractions, it may actually be a good opportunity to show them that yes, you really do use math in the real world, and yes, if you want to eat cookies you need to understand what fractions are! Measuring out other dry ingredients can be easy and fun too, like scooping flour into a cup and leveling it off, or counting out "pinches" of salt or some other seasoning.

Perhaps one of the easiest, though not exactly exciting, tasks you can give your kids is the designated stir-er job. See the stuff in this pot, or pan? Make sure it's always swirling! And away we go. Let your kiddo stir to their heart's content. Just remember that the stove, and the stuff on it, are hot and you must always be careful around the kitchen.

By doing these things, kids can contribute to the meal while learning about cooking at the same time. Additionally, kids can help with cleanup after dinner. They could clear the table, wash dishes, or sweep the floor. Helping with cleanup is a valuable way to teach responsibility and contribute to the family. Overall, there are many ways that kids can help with cooking meals for the family. By doing simple tasks such as chopping vegetables or washing dishes, they can learn about cooking while also helping to make the meal more delicious.

Do Some Crafts Together

Crafting is another great way to turn screen time into quality time. There are tons of great craft ideas out there that the whole family can enjoy, from simple projects like painting rocks or making cards to more complex ones like making puppets or scarecrows. This is a great way to let everyone's creativity shine, and you'll end up with some beautiful (and usually memorable) results.

DIY Bird Feeder: This craft is perfect for kids who love spending time outdoors. All you need is some birdseed, a plastic yogurt container, string, and a pair of scissors. First, cut a hole in the bottom of the container large enough for the string to fit through. Then, thread the string through the hole and tie a knot on the inside of the container. Next, fill the container with birdseed and tie a knot on the outside of the container. Finally, Hang your new bird feeder from a tree branch and enjoy watching the birds!

Edible slime: This one is sure to be a hit with all the little ones! Edible slime is not only fun to make, but it’s also delicious! All you need is some marshmallows, peanut butter, and chocolate chips. First, melt the marshmallows in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Then, add the peanut butter and chocolate chips and mix until well combined. Let your slime cool in the fridge for about an hour before playing with it. And if it gets too sticky, just pop it back in the fridge for a few minutes. Bon Appetit!

Paper plate suncatchers: This craft is perfect for kids who love bright and colorful things. All you need is some construction paper, scissors, glue, and a paper plate. First, cut out different shapes from your construction paper. Then, glue those shapes onto your paper plate. Once your glue has dried, hang your new suncatcher in a sunny spot and enjoy the beauty of it!

Train the Family Pet

Training a new pet can be a daunting task, but with patience and perseverance it can be a rewarding experience for the whole family. One of the best ways to get started is to enroll in a training class taught by a professional. This will give you the opportunity to learn the basics of obedience training and to ask any questions that you might have. In addition, you can also get some tips on how to manage common behavior issues such as chewing, barking, and jumping. Training classes are typically held once or twice a week for an hour or two at a time, so they can easily fit into even the busiest schedules.

Another great way to train your pet is to practice at home on a regular basis. Even just ten minutes a day of focused attention can help your pet learn important commands and good manners. This is where our recommendation really shines. Just like with kids, pets thrive on structure and consistency. It can also be super fun, working with your pet and seeing them progress in their skills.

Working with animals is great for everyone, but kids especially. We all know that caring for a pet helps children learn responsibility, which is so important. Your kid has a job essentially, with clear objectives and expectations, and they can enjoy performing that job while feeling accomplished and helpful. They also must learn to communicate with something that can't speak back to them. This can help teach patience and your kids will become much more observant and intuitive as they learn to decipher what all of your pets movements and actions mean.

Cultivate Imagination Through Reading

Depending on the age of your kids, you can either read aloud with them as a family or let them read on their own. Sometimes if everyone is reading together in the same room, or at the same time, it can be easier for kids to want to read in the first place. If their sibling is playing a video game, or dad is watching TV, it may seem like reading isn't quite as fun in comparison. But if there is a reading time where the only activity is reading, whether you're reading aloud together or everyone has their own book and their own space, that's great!

Reading books out loud as a family can be a great way to bond with your children and instill a love of reading in them from an early age. It can be difficult to find time to read together when everyone is leading busy lives, but making it a regular habit can have lasting benefits. Not only will your children develop strong reading skills, but they will also learn to appreciate literature and build their own personal libraries. In addition, listening to books together can promote discussions about the characters and plot, fostering critical thinking skills. So whether you're curl up on the couch with a classic or gathered around the kitchen table with the latest bestseller, make reading aloud a part of your family's routine.

When children are read to by others, they gain a number of important skills. They learn new vocabulary, build listening comprehension, and develop an understanding of story structure. However, there are also many benefits to children reading books by themselves. As they learn to read independently, they practice their decoding skills and increase their fluency. They also have the opportunity to choose books that are interesting to them, fostering a love of reading. In addition, children who read on their own often have a higher level of comprehension than those who only listen to books being read aloud. So while being read to is important, it’s also beneficial for children to spend some time reading alone.

Play Some Games & Ditch The Screens Today!

Screen time is a huge issue for people of all ages, but it’s especially important to limit screen time for young children. Not only does screen time inhibit creativity and social interaction, it also has negative effects on the brain. One way to combat the negative impacts of screen time is to ditch the screens altogether and play games like cornhole. Cornhole is a fun game that can be played outdoors with friends or family members, and it doesn’t require any screens! If you want to help your child (or yourself) break free from the bonds of screen addiction, consider playing some fun, physical games like cornhole. 

There are endless ways that you can turn screen time into quality time for your family - it just takes a little bit of creativity! So next time you're looking for something fun (and productive) to do together, why not try one of these five ideas mentioned above?