Summertime vs. Screentime

Summertime! Yay!

Yay, indeed. Unless you are already grinding your teeth because you want your kids to put down their screens.

You could yell at them: “Go outside and play!” That always works, right? You could bribe them with cash or baked goods. That’s also probably not the best habit to get into. One idea would be to set up an intricate schedule for iPad, smartphone, and gaming device usage, exchanging chores for minutes and requiring the kids to be outside in the fresh air for 45 minutes for every hour of screen time. But who’s really going to track that timetable?

A more effective plan for winning the screen time battle is to put a positive spin on outdoor activities. The goal is to get them into the sunshine, engage their imagination, and elevate their heart rate. Ultimately, to set them up for a positive experience and a realization that spending time in the great outdoors is a worthy option.

Investing just a few bucks in non-electronic toys, games, and sports gear is money well spent. Consider bubble wands, hula hoops, sidewalk chalk, a swing set, a wading pool, or a basketball hoop. Frisbees, Wiffle Balls, bikes, trikes, skateboards, street hockey goals and gear. Nerf toys, ring toss, squirt guns, water balloons, slip ‘n slides, wagons, doll strollers, butterfly nets, a playhouse, material to build a tree house, and so on. (Please don’t turn them loose with lawn darts, hoverboards, or firecrackers.)

Often, “new stuff” can keep them amused and active for hours or, even, days. Learning to play, compete, and cooperate with siblings or friends from the neighborhood stretches their imagination and polishes their people skills.

But “old stuff” may be even more compelling. That would be the games you played back in the day. Do you remember Hide ‘n Seek, Ghost in the Graveyard, Kick the Can, Foursquare, Freeze Tag,  Marco Polo, Double Dutch, Red Light/Green Light, Mother May I?, Simon Says, Sardines, Spud, H-O-R-S-E, Red Rover, or Capture the Flag?

The best part about teaching your kids classic games and activities is that they need someone older to teach them the rules and strategies. Now who could that be?

Motivated by my long-time ministry to dads, I’m going to challenge men to step up and hear this truth: 

“The best replacement for screentime is dadtime.”
— Jay Payleitner

Make sense?  I hope so.

Finally, here’s an idea that is especially appropriate for you and your kids here in the summer of 2024. Learn pickleball together! Rae Anne invited me to play a few times earlier this Spring. I never won, but . . . I won.

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