JANUARY 14, 2020
Budget-Friendly Tips to Encourage Less Screen Time
Guest post contributed by Kristin Louis
When you were younger you didn’t have all these handheld devices glued to your hands and eyes. Instead, you played outside with chalk, rode your bike, and let your imagination turn a tree into a castle fortress or spent hours inside painting with watercolors or playing hide-and-seek. Now kids have electronics at their fingertips, and tearing them away can be tough!
You’ll be happy to hear that there are plenty of budget-friendly activities and ideas to get your child away from the screen and back to the present.
Set Up Your Own Playground
Giving kids a place to unwind in the great outdoors is a terrific way to pull them away from electronic gadgetry. Creating a playground area doesn’t have to be elaborate. A flat grassy area is perfect for outdoor activities and sports, and a couple of trees/shrubs can serve as hiding spots, freeze tag bases, and shade. When choosing an area, HomeAdvisor suggests picking a spot with plenty of space.
Be sure to include play equipment that doesn’t require a ton of maintenance! A small patch of dirt can be a great place to play with monster trucks, while a DIY sandbox using a cheap plastic wading pool or a recycled tire can provide hours of fun.
If your little one is begging for a commercial playset, there’s no need to fear the cost. Amazon has plenty of cheap play and swing sets from $100 to $200 dollars, plus free shipping, but you can likely find a good deal at a yard sale or on Craigslist.
Encourage Team Sports
Team sports not only mean your child is pulled away from the video games, but as NZone explains, they provide an excellent opportunity for exercise, teamwork/sportsmanship, socialization, and character building.
With all the sports options available such as baseball, basketball, hockey, archery, dance, gymnastics and more, you never know which one your child will develop a lasting interest in. Rather than spend a fortune on gear only for your child to decide they don’t like it, find discounted items by combining coupons and promo codes. Resist the urge to buy brand names, and don’t go overboard so that there isn’t any pressure on your child to like a particular sport.
There’s Nothing Wrong with Indoor Fun
When you do manage to tear your child’s eyes away from the screen, sending them outside isn’t the only way they can have fun. There are plenty of indoor activities. Help your little one create their own watercolor paints and make custom colors using baking soda, cornstarch, white vinegar, corn syrup, and food coloring.
Don’t forget traditional options as well. Head to the board game aisle at Walmart and let your child pick out a new board game or puzzle, most of which are less than $15 dollars. You might even spot a few of your childhood favorites that the two of you can play together. The possibilities are endless for cheap, indoor fun, and all it takes is a quick search online for new ideas.
Limit Screen Time
All this talk of ways to get your child away from the screen, but how exactly are you supposed to limit it? For starters, set time limits each day and stick to it no matter how much they beg. If your child is a fan of playing apps, sit down with them and sort them into apps that are brain food and junk food. Make it a rule that they have to play an educational game to earn a junk game, but this doesn’t mean playing endless educational games to get endless screen time. Be sure to the parental controls available for your Apple or Android product, too, to put you in the driver’s seat.
We’ve entered a time when children equate playing with sitting in front of a screen. There’s nothing wrong with this in moderation, but it becomes a problem when a screen turns them into zombies. Slowly start to limit your child’s screen time by replacing it with a fun new activity to ease the transition, and soon playing will take on a whole new meaning.
Kristin Louis is a former advertising copywriter and has two rambunctious boys, 10 and 7 years of age. She created ParentingwithKris.com to share her experiences about the trials and tribulations of parenting.