How to Make Screen Time Productive
If you’re concerned about the amount of screen time your kids are engaging in, you’re not alone. Millions of parents worry that kids spend too much of their lives glued to screens, and for good reason – according to the BBC, the average child spends over 6 hours each day looking at a screen.
But we’ll let you in on a little secret: giving in to your child’s demands for screen time can actually help them expand their minds, develop problem-solving skills, and enhance creativity. How? By leveraging screen time with uplifting and engaging activities. It’s a trend on the rise, and it’s easier than you might think.
Blend Learning and Fun
Leveraging screen time doesn’t mean allowing your children to play only strictly educational games. They don’t need to be drilling math facts or learning history – the key is to find ways to keep them thinking and creating. Let them discover that learning is fun!
Try swapping simple, distracting games for tablet art apps, games that involve solving mysteries or puzzles, and coding! Encourage your kids to find inspiration in the world around them as they make art on their tablets. When your kids look for a game to play, help them find a game that uses problem-solving skills.
As they learn to code, suggest that they recreate their favorite games or challenge them to code their favorite movie scene. Kids can share all kinds of skills as they code – as Featured Maker Noah‘s mother Lauren said of her son’s coding hobby, “He actually gets to use the skills that I like to see him work on, like sharing artistic talent, music, art, as well as math.”
Try having your kids program connected toys like drones or robots. They’re hugely popular for good reason – kids get to use screens to create, then see the physical effects of their hard work and creativity in real-time. It’s entertaining, of course, but it also provides a great feedback loop!
Distinguish Between Playing and Making
We all love a little bit of mindless screen time now and then – social media is to you as gaming is to kids – but kids have an immense capability to learn and create that needs to be explored!
Creativity is one of the most important skills your children can develop – in fact, a recent Forbes article cites creativity as the most important skill for a future of AI!
A good rule of thumb for leveraging your child’s screen time is to find ways to focus on “making” rather than simply “playing.” When kids are playing, they’re following predetermined paths. When they’re making, kids pave those paths.
Here’s an example: your child is playing a game, clicking and dragging, following a predetermined path. She’s enjoying herself and relaxing, but she’s not as engaged as she could or should be.
When she switches to building her own game, she’s interacting with the platform in a new way. She’s entertained by the prospect of a challenge, and pushes herself to learn new things in order to figure out how to create what she wants to make.
Stephanie, Featured Maker Max‘s mom, made a fantastic addition to this point, saying, “My husband especially is very anti-screen time, so he doesn’t like the kids just watching TV – but this kind of activity is something he can do where he’s actually being productive. There’s a difference between passively just absorbing something and then actively engaging with it.”
Look to the Future
By creating opportunities for your kids to learn during their screen time, you’re helping them build good habits. As they begin to discover the magic of making, kids might even take their making skills offline with art, LEGOs, or backyard forts!
Quell your screen time concerns by leveraging that time for learning. Kids thrive when they’re challenged and they love to create – what better way to encourage both?
Try Tynker – you’ll help your kids stay engaged and learning in their downtime while they build skills for the future! Our guided courses, puzzles, and more ensure that every child will find something that ignites their passion for learning.
“We don’t do electronics, we don’t do video games, we don’t do any of that stuff – but I could see the benefit from Tynker. I thought “Wow, this is really cool,” so I let them do it.” – Priscilla, Featured Maker Isaiah‘s mother