111 Limit Screen Time Ideas – Unplugged Activities for Kids
Seriously, what did we do as kids without smartphones? – Coming up with how to Limit Screen Time ideas for my kid
Enough is enough! I WANT MY KID BACK.
It was 11 a.m. on a Saturday morning. My 1-year-old powerhouse was taking a nap. I was suddenly conscious of this eerie silence in the house.
Where was all the noise – toys falling, heavy ball dribbling and general chaos I was used to? Something wasn’t right. My heart skipped a bit. I went looking for my 10-year-old. I found him hunched up over a glowing screen, toys neatly tucked away where I had put them a week back!
At that moment I knew I had to work something out. Like, limit screen time ideas? He was missing out on creating his own childhood memories! I didn’t want him to grow up with borrowed experiences from video game characters and umpteen Disney high school dramas he was soaking up.
Though he was still a few years away from becoming a teenager, I was getting
- monosyllables as answers.
- a sense of ‘wrap it up quick’ when I spoke to him.
- hurriedly finished tasks and ‘can I go now’ whenever I asked him to help me with something.
A year back, he was totally different
- tagging along with me whenever he could.
- endless prattling about anything and everything.
- listening with full attention whenever I told him about my childhood memories or stories to indirectly teach him some life skill.
I own up. There was some lack of attention from me this past year because of a high-maintenance new baby, work and generally getting used to a new routine and added responsibilities. But, it had now become a problem and I had to come up with a solution a.k.a. limit screen time ideas. However, I sensed a war in the offing.
Benefits of limiting screen time
Do I even need to write about this? I’m pretty sure you know how irritating it is when you have to talk to the top of your kid’s head even at mealtimes. And it somehow makes me feel I’m getting the modern version of “talk to the hand” : )
Well, here are the top 5 benefits that I’m aiming for when going into war over screen time.
- Freeing up the mind to think, dream & be creative.
- Saving their eyes up because they’d still need those peepers way past their teen years.
- Meaningful family time, better bonding & actually making eye contact while you speak.
- Having real-life childhood experiences & creating memories for my kid.
- They get more time to play outside, explore the outdoors and get some sort of physical exercise for a healthy & happy childhood.
Screen time – how long
Limiting screen time is good, but how long should a child have screen time?
That actually varies depending on which grade your kid is in the school, what are their study requirements, whether they prefer gaming or watching TV programs and a few more things. So, there’s no one-rule-applies-to-all.
The general rule that works well for my 10-year-old is 1/2 hour of watching TV + 1/2 hour of gaming + whatever is needed for school tasks on weekdays.
Mini limit screen time ideas: Ask them to TiVo whatever they want to watch. That way
- you can monitor what they are watching
- they get to skip the commercials and
- you can select the time that suits your kid than the broadcasters.
How many hours a day should a child be on electronics is best decided by the parents. Because you know your child best, their school obligations, how quickly they can get through their chores and studies. And yes, efficiency in completing their tasks also matters because that decides how much time they have left for relaxing, being outdoors and for screen time.
For example, I use screen time as a reward for my son to get his chores done. Else, he simply drives me crazy with how much I’ve to pick up after him when he gets back from school.
For teenagers, you may also have to work in some social media time. But the good thing is teens usually aren’t much interested in watching TV : )
Limit screen time vs. eliminate screen time
It’s extremely tough and not fair on the kids to completely eliminate screen time in today’s digital world. So, what we aim for instead is working in a healthy amount of screen time in their daily schedule along with unplugged activities for kids.
You’d still need them to be aware of what’s going on in the world, research for their school tasks, connect with others and learn to use all the helpful information out there, right?
What helps a lot in this for kids is to limit screen time for adults too. Because let’s face it, how much ever our kids might think we’re cool or not, they do follow whatever we do…though they rather seem to prefer the slip-ups than the good things we intentionally do for them to follow : )
Limit screen time ideas (alternatives or things to do instead)
There are scores of stuff that you can do with your kid or (better) they can do on their own instead of clocking up screen time. So, channel your inner child. Your imagination and creativity are the limits. However, here are 111 tips for reducing screen time to get you started.
Limit screen time ideas that kids can do on their own
- Practice card/magic tricks
- Play in the sand/moon dust box
- Complete a jigsaw puzzle
- Draw or create something to put up on your room door
- Make a Christmas tree ornament
- Finger painting
- Play with hula hoops
- Play sock ball and laundry basketball dunk
- Roller skate or skateboard around the block
- Juggle and add one more item the next time
- Play dress
- Lego structure using your imagination
- Playdough sculpture
- Homemade slime fun
- Doodle to bring out creativity and also calm down
- Hand shadow figures
- Write a story (can be collected into a book over time)
- Scrapbook about your favorite thing
- Make something edible for the family, anything from ice candy to whatever the kid is up for
- Build a fort with bed sheets and cardboard boxes
- Plant a mini garden and care for it
- Chalkboard time
- Skip rope
- Make paper-mâché or aluminum foil sculpture
- Learn or play a musical instrument
- Make a paper wreath for Thanksgiving
- Make a card for family or friend
- Do some simple science experiments
- Create your own fridge magnet
- Volunteer to help some elderly person in the neighborhood
- Build a playing card castle
- Blow pen art
- Water the plants
- Learn the names of plants & flowers in your garden/ neighborhood
- Start a coin/rock or dried flower collection
- Coloring sheets
- Read a book
- Take out clothes/books/toys no longer needed for charity
- Do shadow drawing of toys and fill color with crayons
- Play with fidget spinner or spinning top
- Balance a stick/racquet on your hand & break your own record
- Create your own dribble-a-ball-without-break record
- Dance to your favorite songs
- Learn to count in a new language
- Create a mini putting course around the house
- Play with your pet or walk the dog
- Do yoga
- Scavenger hunt indoors and outdoors (keep printed list handy)
- Collect cool rocks and paint them
- Create something using origami
- Bird watching. Name the neighborhood birds
- Collect twigs from outside & create something crafty with those
- Play don’t-let-the-balloon-touch-the-ground
- Sticky tape spider web in the doorway and aim with scrunched up newspaper balls
- Create an imaginary superhero and draw/write about it
- Create a story with your imaginary superhero in it. (It can potentially become a book).
- Create a toothpaste and cookie box town
- Create a pen holder with ice cream sticks
- Make a paper oat and float it in the tub or puddle outside
- Fly a kite
- Find something interesting with your binoculars
- Take a nap
- Create a vision board of what you want to do when you grow up
- Jump in the puddle outside
- Make a paper chain and see how long you can make it
- Make a mud pit in a cardboard box & carwash in a plastic tub for toy cars and trucks
- Make a mini terrarium or fairy garden
- Weed the garden
- Make a cushions+pillow land and jump about in it or simply get comfy with your favorite toy or book
Limit screen time ideas that require one or more kids/parent
- Make a teepee tent in your room and go camping in it with a picnic basket
- Take out a family photo album and try to identify everyone in it
- Plan, organize & execute a weekend family party at home
- Help out at the local animal shelter
- Create your own game
- Stacked up paper cups & squirt gun aiming challenge
- Put up a DIY puppet show for the family
- DIY a foosball table and play
- Go for a walk
- Bubble fight
- Board games
- Go for a swim
- Go on a hike
- Take a picnic basket out to the front garden or nearby park
- Go bowling
- Squirt gun fight
- Go backyard camping
- Hide and seek
- Create sprinkler slip and slide tracks
- DIY race track for toy cars and have a race
- Play card games
- Dumb charades
- Play can-you-see-what-I-can-see (I spy)
- Make paper masks and play act
- Find figures in the clouds
- Plan a play date
- Make paper airplanes and have a flying contest
- Play with a frisbee
- Thumb wrestle
- Play catch
Limit screen time ideas that require parental involvement
- Let them do something in the kitchen they aren’t usually allowed to
- Identify and name the constellations in the night sky
- Visit a museum
- Go to nearby splash park/amusement park
- Go to the zoo
- Bake cookies or make fruit ice lollies
- Go to a fair/concert
- Go to the beach
- Help fill the shopping cart when grocery shopping
- Name all the items at the local farmers market
Coming up with these limit screen time ideas took me back to my childhood days and I felt our parents had it easier. But, maybe that’s how every generation of parents with young kids feel : )
Now, two months after the Saturday morning we began with, I have my nonstop babbler back! There were quite a few tears, screaming and a mix of frustration-tantrum on both sides :), but WE DID IT!!!
His topics of discussion and playing style might have changed, but he’s back once more to being a kid than a screen magnet. Never thought I would say this, but I’m happy to return to pick-up-toys-from-floor duty!
So, what do you get your kids to do instead of being glued to the screen? Do you think limiting screen time for adults can have a positive effect on limiting kids’ screen time?
Hi, I’m Nandita, a trying-to-do-my-best mom of 2 super-charged boys and the author of Nandyz Soulshine. Somewhere in the joy, bustle, and exhaustion of motherhood, we tend to forget we too are individuals and not just ‘mommy’, don’t we? It’s not selfish to take care of ourselves – it’s essential for giving our best to our family & work. Get the free complete step-by-step plan to make giving-your-best an effortless habit that’ll help put self-care on autopilot for you.