Since the beginning of the 1900s, the advancement of technology has been unstoppable. Fast forward to the present, entertainment and educational materials are no longer being viewed in books and magazines. People now use gadgets like phones, tablets, and laptops to learn more and occupy their time.
With the increased use of technology, many people aren’t aware of how much screen time they are actually spending. This is specifically true to high school or older students whose priorities and goal-setting aren’t as strictly organized as that of professional adults.
If you’re looking for alternative offline activities to reduce screen time, read on.
The Consequences of Excessive Screen Time
Anything you take or do in excess can be harmful. The same is true when it comes to screen time. Regardless of age, too much time spent in front of any electronic screen could be dangerous. What’s alarming is the consequences don’t immediately manifest. Some only feel the negative effects in the long run when it’s most likely too late. Plus, the impact doesn’t only target one’s physical well-being, but mental and emotional as well.
Excessive screen time could eventually deteriorate cognitive and motor skills. For instance, some evidence proves that children severely exposed to television during their elementary school years perform poorer reading comprehension and show more attention deficiency. Moreover, children spending more than 2 hours on the screen every day are 5.9 times more likely to report clinically significant inattention problems.
Below are the common symptoms and consequences of too much screen time.
- Eye strain, tiredness, irritation, and dryness
- Blurry vision
- Retina damage
- Sleep deprivation
- Delayed learning in young children
- Loss of cognitive ability
- Susceptibility to chronic health conditions
- Increased risk of obesity
- Impaired socializing skills
- Weakened emotional judgment
- Lower self-esteem
Offline Activities As Diversion From Technology Use
One great way to reduce screen time is to divert attention to more meaningful activities. Realign your focus to long-lost hobbies or newly-found interests. If you’re a parent, initiate offline activities to save your kids and yourself.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends avoiding screens for children 24 months and below and allowing only 1 hour per day for those who are 2-5 years old. Aside from implementing screen-free times and locations at home, here are some offline and learning activities to try to adhere to those screen time recommendations.
Play with Construction Toys
If you have 4-year old kids, consider buying building or construction toys like Legos. Spend some quality time together mimicking characters or engineering your own. Though most Lego sets come with models or instructions, your imagination is the limit. Hence, this could stimulate their creativity and resourcefulness. Moreover, playing with construction toys can help develop various significant abilities like non-verbal intelligence, divergent problem-solving abilities, motor, and cognitive skills, language and communication, and spatial skills.
Reading is one of the most beneficial activities and it’s appropriate for anyone regardless of age. In fact, Obstetricians recommend reading out loud during pregnancy as child development starts while in the womb. Reports show that reading out loud to younger children could help curb behavior issues like aggression and hyperactivity. It also helps expand vocabularies, improve verbal and communication skills, and enhance comprehension.
Puzzles and Simulation Activities
Child Development Institute highly recommends puzzles to help develop hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and shape recognition. Puzzles can also help enhance memory, goal setting, and problem-solving. Simulation is another fun offline activity as it allows children to experience real-life scenarios. Such activities improve judgment, perception, decision-making, and other practical skills. You can also leverage these activities to gain your child’s trust as you teach and show them the power of teamwork. They provide an idea about your kid’s thought process, making it easier to know where and how to properly help them.
Card and Board Games
Game nights are great alternatives to movie nights as they are inexpensive and portable. Plus, games don’t necessarily need to be extremely educational to positively impact kids. These activities trigger one’s competitiveness and promote teamwork. Board games help kids master numbers, shapes, letters, colors, and learn the value of waiting, socializing, and communicating. Card games could also be healthy and beneficial for kids as these teach them strategic thinking, rules adherence, and self-confidence.
Offline activities could also be executed outdoors. After all, 5-15 minutes of sun at least once every two days gives your body all the Vitamin D it needs. Like the previously mentioned indoor activities, outdoor activities help enhance critical skills that are crucial for a child’s development. Organize activities like camping, gardening, scavenger hunt, obstacle course, or the like. Aside from being able to reduce their screen time, such events provide the chance to better know your kids, learning their personalities, and understanding their characters.
With sports, it’s like you’re hitting multiple birds with one stone. Not only do you divert their attention from digital screens, but you also lead them to a healthier lifestyle. Aside from health benefits, competing in sports could instill in them the value of discipline and hard work. By introducing your kids to sports like bicycling, you’re also teaching them coordination, balance, persistence, resilience, and stamina.
Working out is a lifetime lifestyle, and shouldn’t just be a phase. It may take a strong commitment and a lot of hard work, but one key to this is to start them young. Of course, don’t expect them to perfectly execute the same workouts you do; start with the basics. Like sports, workouts can teach your kids discipline and persistence. Easy exercises for your kids include jogging, running, skipping, and stretching – all these are beneficial for their physical and mental development.
Childhood is a once-in-a-lifetime phase, be sure your kid doesn’t miss out on this significant stage. As an adult, you should know by now that there’s more to life beyond the digital world. So, as much as possible, regulate your and your loved ones’ screen times.