In today’s world, we spend a lot of time in front of screens. If you work a desk job, you likely spend eight hours or more per day looking at your computer screen. Then perhaps you use your cellphone maps to run a few errands, check your notes app for your grocery list, and text back people who messaged you throughout the day. Eventually you get home and you’re exhausted, so you plop down on the couch and scroll through social media for a little while before flipping on the television and watching a few episodes before hitting the hay.
Whether we’re consciously aware of it or not, we spend a LOT of our day looking at a screen.
Our kids notice this and kids love to mimic what they see. I already notice this in kids these days craving screen time, bargaining with their parents to complete their chores or go to bed early if they can just watch one more show or play one more round.
A study mentioned by the Urban Child Institute states that researchers analyzed children’s everyday schedules, and noticed a link between screen time and the neglect of play. For every hour of TV watched each week, kids experienced a 10% reduction in creative activities, like make-believe, arts and crafts, and playing with non-electronic toys.
Let’s help foster the desire to create real, hands-on projects in our children instead of longing after intangible rewards or treasures gained after completing the next level of an app or game.
Arts and crafts offer so many benefits:
- Crafts allow kids to create. Whether you choose physical building activities, like ceramics or paper crafts, where you child can dream up an idea before designing it, crafts allow children to be creative and build their own adventure.
- Arts and crafts create a positive experience. Every kid wants to be praised and recognized for their hard work. This is your perfect opportunity as a parent to admire their hard work, encourage them to keep creating and compliment their creativity.
- Everyone can enjoy arts and crafts - together. As I mentioned before, kids love to mimic what they see. Therefore, this is your chance to get your hands dirty. Get out the Playdough, crayons, glue and recyclables to craft until your heart’s content. Perhaps you’re a sewer - teach your little one how to use a needle and thread. Whatever you do, they will want to do it too. Connect with your child while they learn to create, imagine, communicate and dream.
Your children may not be able to comprehend all of these benefits, and if they’re used to screen time, they might rebel at the beginning. Here are a few ways for you to promote alternatives to screen time by modeling healthy electronic use in the home:
1. Enforce technology-free zones: Instead of allowing Smart Phones and iPads in every part of your life, perhaps you say that certain areas are off-limits, like the dinner table, the bedroom as well as the arts and crafts table. These are your sacred spaces where you can engage in learning, conversation or rest.
2. Offer fun alternatives: This really depends on knowing your children and understanding what would be a good option. If your child is naturally active, sitting and reading a book may not sound like a great alternative, whereas playing soccer or going to the playground may be more enticing. Perhaps you set up an arts and craft schedule, where you color on Mondays, sew on Tuesdays, paint on Wednesdays...
3. Start something new: Kids get bored easily - you already know this. So instead of offering the same old options day in and day out, maybe you teach your child how to cook or play an instrument. Children love to learn, so this could be a great opportunity for you to spend more time together while also teaching them a skill they could have with them for the rest of their lives.
With all of this said, screens are not the end of childhood creativity. There are plenty of great ways to use screens in your child’s daily life, like looking up a new DIY craft, or engaging with a fun, creative app. However, there never seems to be a shortage of screen time in anyone’s life, so I recommend getting your kids hooked on arts and crafts at a young age so that they learn to value hands-on experiences where they can imagine, interact, dream and create at will.
Perhaps your children want to learn how to make gemstone soaps? Or sew adorable woodland animals?
Check out our craft kits for kids to give the gift of educational, hands-on experiences this season.