Raising a child “media-free” or “low-screen” in today’s technological world can seem extremely daunting. Fortunately, summer provides the perfect time to explore screen-free alternative activities for your little ones.
Screen time, especially in excess, is not only a bad habit for your kids, but can be harmful to their health; according to the American Pediatric Association it can cause struggles with cognitive and language development. Luckily, there are some healthy alternatives to that bright LED screen, and they all start with the psychiatric idea of self-directed play—play that is determined and carried out by your child.
The first step in encouraging self-directed play is to turn off the TV. The American Academy of Pediatrics has announced specific recommendations for daily screen time based on your child’s age:
- Younger than 18 months: no screen media aside from (limited) video chatting
- 18 to 24 months: choose only high-quality programming, and watch with your children
- 2-5 years: limit screen use to 1 hour per day
- 6 years and up: place consistent limits on all media
You’ll also want to create an environment where a screen is not needed for a child to be entertained. Set up a play area where toys are easy to reach. Be sure to include lots of books in their play area. Even if a child can’t read yet, they’re often enamored with just the pictures and colors in children’s books. Instead of staring blankly at a screen, their mind is actively working and cataloguing the words and images on the page.
In the summer, the opportunity to spend time outdoors is ripe. After making sure your child is protected from the sun, let them go explore! A little fresh air beats a screen any day.
If you’re interested in learning even more, give Any Baby Can a call at 512.454.3743.