The Battle with Screen Time

Let Them Be Bored

By Judy Cash, Publisher Macaroni Kid Wilmington-Newark-New Castle August 9, 2017

Technology certainly has its place in the world, especially in these days and times. However, how much screen time is too much, and what can be done to limit the time your kids, and even you, spend with electronics?

The standard is that children should be limited to less than one or two hours a day. Now I know, sometimes in my home, that number can be doubled. It's so easy, right? The kids jump on YouTube, you start working around the house, and the next thing you know, it's dinner time and 3 hours have passed. How do we break the cycle? Here I will offer some advice and tips to get them away from the screen and back into their organic childhood.

Dump the Toy Box - As scary as that sounds, do it. You know you have a stash of toys somewhere, dump it right in the middle of the floor. The kids will love it and they will most certainly PLAY! This is perfect for that rainy or hot day. Make clean-up fun by "shooting hoops" with the toys back into the box.

Make Paper Airplanes - Just like you used to make! This is an easy and cheap way to entertain the kiddos! Don't know how to fold them? There are great tutorials online!

Play Board Games - Sounds simple but, how often are you playing?

Go Through the Family Photo Album - Teach your kids about your family tree. Tell them stories about their great grandparents and great-great grandparents if you can. Share some of your favorite memories from your childhood. Then start putting together an album for your branch of the tree.

Modeling Clay - This speaks for itself.

Outside Games - Hopscotch, jump rope, kickball. Play catch, play in the hose, get out your wiffle ball set or badminton. Kick the soccer ball around.

Creative Painting/Drawing - Briefly describe a made up scene, leave out a lot of details and don't use too many adjectives. I have a couple you can use or make up your own. "As I walked up the path to the house, I was excited for the party! When I walked in I was surprised by what I saw!" "I strapped on my goggles and jumped in the water, a whale swam by me and I don't think I have ever seen such a thing in my life!"

Go on a Nature Walk - Find your nearest hiking trail and take a walk. Be sure to pack drinks and snacks. Try to identify the sounds you hear and the plants you see and count the squirrels.

Get in the Kitchen - Bake a treat or try a new recipe from a cookbook or magazine! What a great way to expand your meal options list!

Have a Heroes Picnic or Sweet Tea Party - Get outside on your blanket and have lunch dressed as your favorite superhero or dress in your best for a sweet tea party.

Do Nothing - By far the hardest for kids ... and adults, sometimes. Turn off the computer and the TV. Put your phone on silent or turn it off altogether. Just be ... enjoy the quiet without stimulation. This is the time that allows your child to be "bored" and instantly creates the perfect environment for imagination and creativity to bubble to the surface. For this, you can be outside or inside.

If and when you do use a little more technology than the norm this summer, try to make it count. Pick a topic that your child loves and do some research and create a poster together that they can hang up in their room. You could look up how to count to 10 in some new languages. Learn more about the history of your town or city. And check your local Macaroni Kid for all the happenings in your town!

The main thing is building the memories with your family and having fun! That's what summer is for!