Technology has vastly improved, and access to the internet is everywhere. Because of this, today’s kids can play just about any game they can imagine online with just a few taps or clicks of a mouse. Though some screen time is not inherently bad, kids need exercise. Here, you’ll learn a few ways to get your kids to play sports out on the field rather than on a screen.
Emphasize Activity at Home
Kids are sponges, and they will do as their parents and siblings do. Because of this, the very best way to encourage activity instead of screen time involves being active yourself. Promoting activity in your household by taking regular walks, trips to the park, or even going to watch a favorite sports team live are all great ways to change your little ones’ interests from what’s on the screen to what’s happening in front of them.
Limit Screen Time
Another important way to help your children stay interested in sports and active involves limiting the amount of screen time they get each day – especially when they are very young. While it’s hard to do – especially when outside isn’t an option – encourage your little one to use his or her imagination rather than relying on a tablet for distraction. Studies have shown that kids of this age should be limited to about an hour of screen time each day, and if you want to provide more than that, the content should be purely educational.
Cheer Them On
Kids of all ages – and even adults – love to receive praise and validation for the things they do. If your child goes outside and plays baseball for a few hours, be sure to mention it. “Going outside is good for you, and I’m very proud that you chose a healthy activity today,” is a simple but effective way to do just that. Your child will beam with happiness, and he or she will feel encouraged to spend more time outside the next day – and for years to come, too.
Go on Adventures
Finding fun ways to spend time outdoors while staying active can help your kids find more enjoyment in it. There are several activities you can consider as a family, too:
- Hide-and-Seek: Elaborate games of hide and seek can be fun, especially if you get much of your neighborhood involved. Make one area “home base”, and the last person to make it back to home base – or those who are tagged before they reach it – are the “seekers” for the next round.
- Scavenger Hunts: Take your kids on scavenger hunts around a park. For younger kids, use pictures of what you want them to find. This not only gets them walking, but it gets their cognitive skills flowing, helps with their vocabularies, and could even help them learn to read.
- “The Grass is Lava”: If space is limited, get a small, inexpensive beach ball, fill it up, and go out in a safe place in your yard or to a park. Then, you and your kids can play a game of “The Grass is Lava” with the ball. The goal of the game is to keep the ball up in the air for as many “hits” as possible, and if it hits the ground, that’s a strike the whole team. No one wins or loses with this game, and the goal is simply to have fewer strikes with every session.
Some screen time is undoubtedly beneficial, but too much takes the place of activity and can lead to poor health in the future. As you can see, there are several ways to make sports and other activities far more fun than screen time, but it’s up to you to implement them and encourage your kids to participate.