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Keep the Kids Entertained Without Digital Devices This Summer
– By Virginia Cooper
Nearly 50 percent of parents claim their teens are addicted to mobile devices. Young children also frequently use technology, such as smartphones and iPads. A whopping 42 percent of kids age 8 and under have their own iPads. With statistics like this, it’s easy to see why many parents strive to find ways to reduce or eliminate screen time. There are several ways to keep kids of all ages entertained without relying on technology.
Practice Culinary Skills
One phrase every parent hears from their children nearly every day and often several times a day is, “I’m hungry.” Sometimes they’re not actually hungry but are bored and who doesn’t scrounge around for something to eat when there’s nothing else to do?
The next time your child tells you they’re starving, direct them to the kitchen for a lesson in cooking or baking. Even preschoolers are old enough to learn how to prepare simple recipes, so don’t assume your child is too young. Nutrition Studies explains that it’s important for kids to learn to cook as early as possible.
Here are some things you can teach preschoolers and young elementary-school students to make:
- Pita pockets stuffed with veggies or fruits
- Bagels spread with cream cheese, sunflower seed butter, or nut butter
- Sandwiches with deli meat and cheese
- Nachos covered with cheese and veggies (just supervise your child around the oven!)
- Yogurt topped with granola, fruit, or seeds
Keep sliced veggies and fruits in plastic storage bags or containers so your kids don’t have to use a knife. You can give them a spoon to smear cream cheese or nut butter until you feel like your kids can safely use a knife. Either way, don’t leave them unattended during meal prep because an accidental injury may occur.
Tweens and teens can generally follow written recipes after you show them where basic kitchen supplies are located. Here are some recipe ideas for older kids:
- Quesadillas stuffed with meat or veggies
- Tortilla wraps filled with deli meat
- Pizza with a store-bought or homemade crust
- Any type of sandwich
Make Some Noise
The PTA says that one of the best ways to get your kids interested in music is to be a role model by showing an interest in music yourself. You don’t even have to play an instrument or have a professional performer’s singing ability. Even something as simple as singing along with them to a favorite song can be enough. You can attend live concerts together or watch them together at home. Two of a Kind has a great online musical program that’s aimed at kids but is definitely interesting and fun for parents too.
Send Them Outside
Most children spend just four hours per week outside, according to Child in the City. Send your kids outside to soak up the sunshine, which is an excellent source of vitamin D, and burn off some energy. If they complain that they’re bored, take them to visit a local park or encourage them to use their imagination outside. Here are some games kids can play with little or no equipment:
- Hide and seek
- Capture the flag
- Red light, green light
Another option is to host a scavenger hunt for your kids. If your children are too young to read, print or draw pictures of the items you’d like them to find. For older children, write a detailed list or give them a chance to get creative. Challenge them to find seven different kinds of leaves, and stones of different colors.
Children can also make arts and crafts outside. Let your kids participate in messy activities you don’t want in your house, such as finger-painting or creating a sensory bucket.
Want to see your kids get really excited about going outside? Two words–Dune Buggy. Slinging mud as they drive down trails, or even rounding an imaginary track in the backyard means you’ll probably have to bribe them to come inside.
Outdoor Ball Games
Nothing but nothing feels better than sitting in the stands watching a ballgame. It’s an activity parents and kids will love equally. Instead of spending your life savings on a couple of days at the Florida theme parks, try a spring training game instead. Get the family New York Yankees tickets. They train in Florida and those games are every bit as exciting as the regular season ones. Peanuts, hotdogs, fresh air, and cheering on the team, it’s hard to top that for outside excitement.
You don’t have to allow screen time to keep your kids happy this summer. Encouraging them to seek out other indoor activities, like cooking, or outdoor activities, like games or a pool party, can go a long way to keep them entertained without resorting to technology.