Did you know that even before virtual schooling during the pandemic, kids were spending an average of 3-5 hours a day using some sort of screen device, such as a smartphone, computer, or tv? As many schools switched to virtual learning last year and families stayed home for their health, that amount has only increased. It’s no wonder that kids are reporting higher and higher stress levels when asked about their mental state!
Outside of health concerns and hardships brought on by the pandemic, kids are also reporting more concern for their future than kids even just a decade ago. When you were young, do you ever remember being stressed about your college prospects or future career goals? There’s lots of pressure on the younger generations, so it’s up to us grownups to help them by making time for play!
Benefits of Playtime
Playtime isn’t just time for a kid to run around without learning anything, though it may seem like that to us on the outside! Especially for younger children, playtime is a chance to learn fine motor skills, reasoning, language, language, spatial awareness, and even emotional intelligence. As children get older, playtime stays just as important. They learn important social skills, cooperation, and healthy habits to help them stay active throughout the rest of their lives. Experts consider active play a much more important factor to our kids’ development than passive entertainment, such as watching something on tv or an ipad. While they’re having fun, they’re also learning! Not only that, but they are relieving the stresses they experience in their day-to-day lives.
Types of Playtime
Child psychology separates “playtime” into a few different categories: Object Play, Physical, Locomotor, or Rough-and-Tumble Play, Outdoor Play, Social or Pretend Play (Alone or With Others). These cover many types of games and unstructured activities that a kid may enjoy. Some are led by parents or teachers, others are directed by the group of kids participating, and some are enjoyed alone. Depending on their personality, a kid may favor one or another category or play, but they benefit the most by having a variety of activities throughout their day that they can do in 30 minute to hour-long sessions.
Turn off the Tablets Twice a Week
If your kids have been sitting in front of screen-based entertainment for most of the week, talk to them about making it a family routine to regularly put down the tablets, smartphones, or other devices in order to get some good old-fashioned playtime in. Give them a choice of doing something together as a family, pairing off with a buddy, or doing something on their own. The only rule is that they can’t use electronic entertainment! With practice, it will start to feel natural to put down the smart phones and spend time on activities that lower our family’s stress level.