Raising children has never been easy, but issues like limiting screen time are ones that our own parents never had to consider. While this worry may be new, research already shows how limiting screen time is beneficial for children, especially when it comes to cognitive development. If you’re worried about how to find alternatives - and how to keep the costs of those activities from busting your budget - look no further!
The Benefits of Limiting Screen Time
- Health: One of the main reasons to avoid long amounts of screen time is that most electronic activities are sedentary. According to the American Heart Association, this time spent sitting can lead to all kinds of health problems, including obesity and poor sleep quality.
- Development: While some uses of technology can be educational, kids need to be actively engaged in their world for proper development, and the best way to do that is through play. As the blog Healthy Kids, Healthy Future explains, any time spent on screens takes away from kids exploring and interacting with other people. Being involved in these activities is how kids develop, both physically and socially.
- Save Money: Yes, limiting screen time can also save you money! This is because you can find free and affordable activities for kids, rather than investing in new devices and gaming systems.
What Kids Can Do Instead
- Try Team Sports: Besides being excellent physical fitness, playing sports is a learning opportunity that will benefit kids long after they’re grown. The Active Times explains how kids learn about accountability and goal setting through team sports, plus they develop character and perseverance.
Ask your child what interest they have or suggest a sport that’s in season at your local rec center. To keep from spending a fortune on all the gear they need, search for online deals before shopping. You can often find Dicks coupons online, as well as deals from other popular stores.
- Old Fashioned Outdoor Activities: For those times when you aren’t at practice for sports, all it takes is a little creativity and a few basic toys to keep kids busy playing outside. If you have multiple kids or friends over, classic outdoor games like Freeze Tag and Duck Duck Goose are completely free to play. For individual play, you can often find simple outdoor toys like jump ropes at cheap prices. And when your child is ready to ride a bike, check out a consignment store to find the right one at a good price. Just like clothes, kids outgrow bikes quickly, which means parents are often looking to sell their old ones.
- Create Indoor Adventures: Since outside play isn’t always an option, kids also need fun ideas for indoor play. Help them create an indoor adventure with these ideas from Care.com such as making crafts, having a dance party, or building something. For quieter play, simple building blocks are all you need. To take things up a notch, set up a fort with pillows in the living room. To stock up on the craft supplies you need, dollar stores can save the day yet again, or use coupons for your local craft store or big box stores.
- Encourage Free Play: While there is lots of value in these structured activities, kids can have just as much fun engaging in free play. The trick to encouraging kids to try free play is to give them their own play space and materials that fuel their imagination. Along with basic toys, small children love playing with items you already have around the home, like kitchen spatulas and objects you find in nature.
When you choose technology wisely, allowing some screen time can have its benefits. However, knowing that too much screen time leads to health and developmental issues is a good reason to find alternatives. These affordable ideas are perfect for kids to stay more engaged, happy, and learning without any added strain on your budget.
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