We’re all aware of the statistics: Children spending four to five hours per day in front of the television, even more with their minds fused to their “devices.” The fact is, we’re not immune ourselves; parents get caught up in the craziness, too. Our eyes and our attention are riveted to televisions, computers, video games, smart phones, and more.
But what are the alternatives? Do we have a creative bag of tricks or are we dependent on distractions to entertain us? Do we find ourselves at loose ends during a power outage? Or, do we have the resources to keep ourselves constructively engaged? Do we wait nervously, counting the missed shows and lost Facebook posts until our devices flicker back to life? Or, are we well prepared for viable alternatives to those incandescent tubes?
It’s one thing to complain about all this time lost to devices, but it’s something else entirely when we have viable, family-friendly alternatives at our fingertips. The good news is we don’t have to wait for the grid to go down before we explore the alternatives. There are dozens of no-tech activities available that not only enrich family life but teach valuable skills we would otherwise be missing. But let’s not wait for the next power outage; let’s begin by applying some creativity to those hours between dinner and bed. Who knows, Dad and Mom may well be more interesting than the app. Try these 8 things to do tonight that beat watching TV:
1. Long, conversational family dinners.
This one begins—of course—with no television at the table. It helps to have some great conversation starters on hand. Side benefits include social skill enhancement, actual conversation, family interaction, catching up on what’s going on, and more.
2. Board games.
Remember these? They’re actually more engaging, fun and instructional than the online counterparts. Count math skills, general knowledge, strategy, cooperation, and general conversation between turns among the benefits.
3. Family reading time.
This means that everyone reads, you too, Dad. Not only are we honing the most critical higher education skill but practicing higher order thinking.
4. Woodshop in the garage.
Not for everyone, granted, but teaching some fundamental shop skills can have far-reaching benefits the kids will never learn online.
One family around a 1,000 piece puzzle. Try it, along with snacks. Fun for the whole family.
6. Geography Bee.
Assign a country, a continent, or a category (rivers of the world, capital cities). Then construct a basic quiz with some fun prizes. Side benefits include world knowledge, awareness, fun, unexpected learning, and a possible future as a Jeopardy contestant.
7. Arts and crafts.
This is only limited by imagination. Directed activities could include a dining room table covered in LEGO®s; painting supplies to create personalized note cards; paper airplane building workshop; reusable modeling clay—fun for all ages; cards for residents of nursing homes; cards for service personnel overseas, etc.
8. Family walk.
You don’t need a dog for this one. After-dinner hiking clears the mind, aids digestion, promotes fitness and invites conversation. This could be the beginning of more extensive family health initiatives.
Want more ideas for a family fun night? Here are 20.
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and brainstorm fun activities that don’t involve electronic media.