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Kids and Screen Time: What else is there besides that?

What else is there besides screen time? That may be what’s going through your kids’ mind each time you ask them to get off their devices! Kids and screen time can be such a challenging topic for many of us parents to tackle. Kids interact with technology daily and are always asking for more time on their tablets, pleeeeease! As parents we all have our take on screen time and whether our kids should be spending all their time in front of them. How do you feel about this?

Today I’ll share with you how I feel about it. Besides what my kids might think there is plenty to do besides just screen time. And it’s important!

Kids & Screens? What are your thoughts? Here's my take PLUS tips to help you get more play into your kids day!

Thank you to the Genius of Play for sponsoring this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you already know that my kids are pretty techy. You also know that I’m all about the learning apps and letting them learn through screen time. I actually don’t have a problem with them using their tablets or computers, watching educational TV shows, or even playing video games (in moderation).

However, I’m also a mom that believes in the positive impact that good ol’ child’s play can have on my kids’ well being.

Kids & Screen Time: What else is there besides that?

So what else is there besides screen time? There’s unplanned, unstructured, authentic unadulterated play! A time when kids can get creative, laugh out loud, run free, explore, learn, and just enjoy being kids! We try to find a happy medium.

Play can have tremendous effects on growth and learning. That’s a fact! So this summer we played A LOT! And in many different ways! If you follow us on Instagram, you know. 😉

Now don’t get me wrong, screen time can be helpful for summer learning. That’s also a fact. But do you consider screen time the same as play time? Now that my friends can be a very tricky question!

The Genius of Play recently asked parents their thoughts on kids and screen time. Here’s what they had to say.

My thoughts: I guess in our house we approve of screen time for learning and gaming — in moderation since there’s no gaming on school nights. But we also value the power of play — which is unrestricted and constantly encouraged! Screen time is great and all but for us it doesn’t replace play, although I guess it could be considered a form of play.

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Kids Play

What kid doesn’t love some good ol’ play? Sometimes they need a little nudge off their tablet or TV screen but they love you for it as soon as they start having fun. Especially if you’re playing along with them! My kids love it when we play a game together and they’re more likely to get off their screens without a fuss if they know that mommy and daddy are playing too!

On a daily we try to find the right balance between screen time and playtime. However I can’t tell you what the secret formula is. That’s something that each family has to figure out for themselves. What works for me might not work for you. Kids and screen time doesn’t have to look the same at my house as it does at yours.

And I get it! Life gets busy. A trip to the park isn’t always a possibility. Sometimes schedules take priority. Sometimes we all need a quiet moment and that means letting the kids sit in front of a screen more than you’d like to admit. No judgement! I’ve been there too!

Why Play?

What I will tell you is that play has its benefits! It’s not just fun and games — it’s an important teaching tool too! For that reason it’s worth ensuring that play does happen every single day. According to the Genius of Play, kids learn how to interact with others and reach critical developmental milestones when they play. Let’s consider these 6 Benefits of Play.

1. Physical – Active play helps kids with coordination, balance, motor kills, and spending their natural energy!

2. Emotional – During play, kids learn to cope with emotions like fear, frustration, anger, and aggression.

3. Social – Playing with others helps kids negotiate, collaborate, compromise, share, and much more!

4. Cognitive – Children learn to think, read, remember, reason, and pay attention through play.

5. Creative – By allowing imaginations o run wild during play, kids create new worlds, form unique ideas, and much more!

6. Communication – Play lets kids exchange thoughts, information, and messages.

Let’s also consider The State of Play in America. Although many of us already know the importance of play, studies show that the actual time our kids spend playing continues to decrease, particularly the time our kids spend playing outside. Today’s busy schedules, increased screen time, diminished recess time in our schools, and a competitive parenting culture all contribute to the reasons why our kids are playing less than we did when we were kids.

Taking this all into consideration, you will probably agree with me that we need to find more time to just play!

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Find Your Balance and Play

For my family the right balance seems to be to just ensure that everyday has plenty of play time in it. Be it a trip to the playground, a family game night, or an intense LEGO building session.

Some days the kids build forts, jump rope, work through puzzles, make a mess of things and even jump in muddy puddles (because #toddlelife). Other days they play quietly with their toys. Sometimes we’ll just roll around on the living room floor together and giggle uncontrollably. That counts as play too!

And yes, sometimes play time does include their screens. Like when my big boy is engineering his way through Minecraft or baby girl is practicing her early literacy skills through online games. It’s fun! They’re playing and they love it.

But still I don’t let screens replace traditional playtime. I see screens as more of an add on to their daily playtime routine. Meaning that for us every day still has to include some other kind of play, besides screen time. I like to encourage my kids to use their imagination, play with a favorite toy, and just be kids. We tell stories, play pretend, move our bodies to music, get creative, and get outdoors!

And yes, I consider arts and crafts a form of play too! There really are so many different forms of play. I encourage you to find your balance of play.

In Conclusion…

I guess what I’m trying to say is that screens can be fun to play with. They can even be educational. However, In my opinion we shouldn’t forget that traditional play is important and screen time play shouldn’t replace other forms of play! Kids need time to play without screens. Just play!

If you’re a parent looking for ideas on how to get your kids to play more, The Genius of Play is a great resource to turn to. They offer great play ideas and tips to help families incorporate play into their every day.

But that’s not all!

And since we’re on the subject of finding more time to play, I’m also and educator who believes that kids should be playing more in school. 20 minutes of recess a day just isn’t enough! In my opinion, classrooms themselves should include more play. Kids learn best through play and that’s a fact too!

What’s your take on play at school?

If you’re an educator wondering how to weave more play into your classroom, The Genius of Play can help you too! They offer many play-based lesson plans that you can easily integrate into your curriculum.

And don’t even get me started on Homework! Call me crazy but I don’t believe in it. Why? Because it limits family time and opportunities for after school play — which are some of the most effective tools for learning. But that’s for a whole other post!

In the end, don’t forget to make play a part of your kids day, everyday!

Kids and screen time, what else is there besides that? What do your kids do when they’re not playing on their screens? How do you feel about screens and kids? Go ahead and chime in! Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


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