25 Alternatives to Screen Time for Kids This Summer
Summertime screams unlimited free time, relaxation, and no homework. But, during those few months away from the classroom, children are likely to spend more time in front of screens. In fact, on average tweens consume over six hours of media per day, and teens use their devices for nine hours a day. Of course, too much screen time is bad for anyone, young or old. And, more screen time indoors means less time being active outdoors. Not to mention, one of the biggest health issues related to smart devices are vision-related. So, continue on to learn more about the impact of prolonged screen usage, as well as alternatives to screen time for kids this summer.
Excessive Screen Time Affects Eyes
A recent study, conducted by the National Eye Institute, found that the number of people diagnosed with myopia (or nearsightedness) has dramatically increased over the last 20-30 years. Why? Simply put, the amount of time we spend looking at screens has gone up, while physical activity has gone down. Overall, focusing on objects too close to the eyes for long periods puts continuous, excessive strain on the eyes.
On the other hand, prolonged screen time can also lead to Computer Vision Syndrome. This is when users experience headaches, eye strain, fatigue, blurry vision, and dry eye symptoms.
Tips for Reducing Eye Strain
On the bright side, there are several ways to combat visual stressors associated with extra screen time, such as:
- Placing screens 20-28 inches away from the child’s eyes.
- Restricting non-educational screen time to two hours or less a day.
- Practicing the 20-20-20 rule: After every 20 minutes of screen time, take a 20-second break and look 20 feet away.
- Reminding children to blink regularly to avoid excessive dry eyes.
Above all, limiting and avoiding excessive screen time is the key to minimizing risks to children’s eye health. Also, given the warm sunny weather, there’s plenty of opportunities for them to have fun without using screens in the summer. Just check out our list of 25 alternatives to screen time for kids of all ages.
Imaginative Indoor Activities
1. Paint a chalkboard wall.
2. Organize a family game night.
3. Put on some music and have a dance party.
4. Create a collage or vision board.
5. Get creative with coloring books.
6. Build a fort in the living room.
7. Head to the local library for the afternoon. Show the kids your favorite books from childhood!
8. Make homemade ice cream. It’s not as hard as you think.
9. Take scooters to a local skate park.
10. Splash around at a nearby swimming pool.
11. Break a sweat at a trampoline park.
12. Visit a batting cage, bowling alley, or mini-golf course.
13. Pick fresh fruit at a local farm.
14. Visit a museum or zoo.
15. Go to a baseball game.
16. Volunteer at an animal shelter.
Active Outdoor Activities
17. Rollerblade in the neighborhood or find a trail and ride bikes.
18. Campout in the backyard. Pitch a tent, make S’mores, and tell campfire stories.
19. Host a water balloon or water gun fight in the backyard.
20. Have a nature scavenger hunt.
21. Have a car wash. It’s a great way for the kids to get active and make some pocket money, too.
22. Tie-dye a piece of clothing.
23. Play games in the backyard.
24. Plant flowers.
25. Rent paddleboards, kayaks, or canoes for the day.
Swing by Looking Glass Optical
This year, don’t forget to add a pediatric eye exam to your back-to-school checklist. Regular eye exams are the key to maintaining and protecting healthy eyes. At Looking Glass, we offer pediatric eye care services, as well as a complete lineup of glasses and contacts. For more information, contact us today at 410-768-0202.