Too much screen time? Fun Activities to Stimulate Your Inactive Child.

  • Written by Margaret Bell, PT, DPT
Studies show that children who watch several hours of TV a day tend to have greater health risks than children who spend this time engaging in physical activity or non-screen time activities.  In today’s society we are surrounded by screens – television sets, smart phones, computers, iPods, portable video games – and the list continues to grow.  All of these gadgets are full of gripping and sometimes mindless entertainment that can keep us content for hours on end, no matter what our age.  With more and more time spent in front of the screen, we are also losing direct social contact time, which is necessary to build and refine social skills. Not all screen time is “bad.” A lot of what is offered is educational, helpful, a great way to explore our world and sometimes just pure fun.

While it is fine to include some screen time activities in your child’s day, it is also important for children to engage in non-screen activities to stimulate growth, learning and social skills, as well as to promote and teach healthy lifestyles. Try to add physical activity into your everyday routine where everyone stands up and moves.  Make sure you pick activities that your child enjoys, while also encouraging him or her to try new movements. You may even let your child help choose the activity from a list of 2 or 3 options.

Now that winter is here and we are spending less time outside, it becomes more difficult to stay physically active.  Below are some ideas of things to do indoors during the winter months to help your kids stay active:

1.    Make an obstacle course out of cushions, pillows, blankets, or yarn, and things to crawl over, walk or balance on, and jump over.

2.    Play balloon tennis or balloon volleyball.

3.    Have a crab-walk or bear-walk race.

4.    Make a hopscotch grid with tape on the floor.

5.    Set a timer for 1 minute, and see how many jumping jacks, sit-ups, hops on one foot, or heel raises (going up on tip-toe) you can do. Try to beat your number the next time.

6.    Go explore a Children’s Museum, Aquarium, or Science Center.

7.    Play charades.

8.    Play Simon Says.

9.    Put on music and dance!

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