What memories do you cherish of summer as a child?
Catching fireflies under enormous Willow trees? Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream dribbling down your chin? Listening to the crackle of a camp fire as you roast marshmallows? Laughing with new found friends at summer camp?
If you grew up in the 1970’s, 1980’s or early 1990’s, chances are you have similar memories of your summer. In today’s modern world as a parent, it is easy to engage in distracted parenting.
Kids are hungry for dinner, laundry must be done, kitchen needs to be cleaned. Screen time is a parental go-to in assisting you when you need the time to catch up on the housework, or grab those needed few moments to yourself.
But, what are the consequences?
Too much screen time is possibly linked to obesity, poor school performance, lower reading scores, violent behavior, and possible mental health and addiction challenges later in life.
Psychology Today reports that:
Children’s brains are more sensitive to the impact of electronics. Interactive screen time, such video games, texting, Internet, or social media can be even more harmful than passive screen time such as television. Interactive screen time presents higher risks of mood and sleep disturbances in children as it can cause hyperarousal. Screen time is linked to sleep disturbance by disrupting melatonin suppression. It impacts dopamine levels in the brain, acting as a drug would on the feel good centers of our mind and as a result, heavy use of electronics can push a person to seek more stimulation to feel pleasure.
Not to mention, screen time also can negatively impact the amount of time children spend actively and in green spaces. There is evidence that time spent in nature can reduce aggression, stress, and improve attention.
How do we battle our children over screen time usage?
Families would benefit from a discussion about the expectations of screen use. Establish a screen detox, eliminating screen time for an extended period such as a week or two. Families can identify activities to engage in together as alternatives to television and computer time. We as parents will benefit as well.
Need ideas…check out the 25 healthy activities listed below as a jump start to get you and your kids reconnected with screen free activities.
- Camp out in the backyard
- Go for a nature hike
- Play tag
- Plant a garden
- Go to a museum
- Play charades
- Go swimming
- Bake cookies
- Pick strawberries
- Go for a bike ride
- Make a sidewalk chalk art show
- Fly a kite
- Look for crayfish in a creek
- Catch fireflies
- Family game night
- Go to the beach and build sand castles
- Build a fort
- Read a book
- Find shapes in the clouds
- Play hide and seek
- Volunteer together
- Have a dance party
- Make a family yearbook
- Build a birdhouse
- Have picnic
Enjoy one another. Commit to limiting your own screen time. Ban screen use at the dinner table. Make memories. Your children will both benefit from this time spent together in meaningful activities, both now and in the fond memories you will revisit in years to come.