Electronic devices are an important part of modern life. Due to their portability and the sheer variety of games and apps available for phones and tablets, children seem to be especially prone to becoming addicted to their devices. We all know that excessive screen time is not good for our kids, though. But how do you get your child to put down the iPad and go outside to play and explore? Here, we’ll look at some ways to minimize your child’s time on their devices and increase their time outdoors.
- Set Limits
It should go without saying that the most important thing to do to limit screen time is to set an actual time limit. If your kids know how much time they can spend on a device, they are more likely to listen to you when you say their time is up. Be sure to monitor this time, so they know that you are serious about it. You can set a timer if you need to. Most kids will try to bargain for more time, but be firm in your limits. They should forget all about their devices when they’re having fun outside.
- Make Your Backyard Inviting for Children
This will only work for you if you have a backyard, but there are other options for those who don’t. Give them spaces for play and discovery. There is a variety of playground equipment in a range of prices that can make your yard appealing for your kids. You can also give them their own space to plant in the garden. Even those without backyards can try planting in pots or window boxes. You can also buy small items to encourage nature exploration, like binoculars for bird spotting, magnifying glasses to inspect bugs and plants, and small shovels for digging.
- Explore Your Neighborhood
Take advantage of your time outside together to explore your surroundings. Take walks to nearby places, such as libraries or markets, instead of driving there. This way, your child’s time outside is rewarded at the end by an outing, and they get to learn about their neighborhood on the way. This is also a great way for you to get some exercise, too. These activities are great for city-dwellers, who may not have backyards but who probably live in more walkable neighborhoods than their suburban counterparts.
- Take Advantage of Local Parks
Do some research and find out if you’ve got any great parks within driving distance. Look for ones with activities you can do once you get there, like hiking, trail walking, canoeing, wildlife spotting, or fishing. Pack a picnic lunch and make a day out of it. Your kids won’t even think of their devices while they’re having fun in a park.
- Make it a Learning Experience
For kids who love reading and learning, try to incorporate some intellectual discovery in their outdoor time. Pick up a kid-friendly book about identifying plants or animals and use it in your yard, local park, or neighborhood to discover the flora and fauna that live nearby. Let them collect leaves and flowers to identify at home or put in a nature scrapbook.
Getting your kids outside and “unplugged” will stimulate their minds and bodies, and is critical their health and development. We hope these ideas help you in your quest to limit your kids’ screen time.