4 Benefits of Off-Screen Activities & How to Encourage Unplugged Play
Between games, quizzes, puzzles, and online learning, kids love their screen activities. But how much screen time is too much? Most research says the quality of online content varies, and it’s vital to strike a balance between on- and off-screen activities.
You’re wondering: how do I entertain my child without screen time? Read on as we share about the benefits of off-screen activities, and suggest some ways you can inspire kids to enjoy unplugged play.
Some studies suggest that on-screen activities can support kids’ social and emotional well-being. If that’s the case, why should we reduce screen time? Because there are proven benefits of off-screen activities, including physical activity, immersive learning, hands-on play, and more!
What does screen time do to a child's brain? In the right context, it’s a helpful tool for teaching and keeping them engaged. What happens if you get too much screen time, though? Researchers at Kaiser say too much screen time may do more harm than good. Remember that moderation we mentioned above? It’s essential.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that elementary-age children should engage with screen time for one to two hours per day. Outside of this window, parents are encouraged to keep activities off-screen.
Your kids will love playing off-screen, and you’ll love the benefits they’ll get!
1. They Get Kids Moving
Let’s face it, as awesome as some on-screen activities can be, they generally require our kids to stay in one place for a bit. One of the best benefits of off-screen activities? They encourage kids to get moving.
The CDC recommends that 6- to 10-year-olds get at least one hour or more of physical activity each day. One way to ensure kids meet that target is by encouraging active play. Here are some fun off-screen activities to get kids moving:
Sports games:head to the park to play catch, enroll them in a new sport, or turn your backyard into an obstacle course.
Have them play Hide-and-Seek, a scavenger hunt, or a relay race.
Turn chores into a challenge:make a game out of household tasks, see how fast they can clean their room, etc.
But the benefits of off-screen toys expand beyond physical play...
2. They Encourage Hands-On Learning
Unplugged play engages kids while encouraging them to get hands-on and interact with their activities! Off-screen toys and games take play straight into the real world with no limitations.
For example, Squaregles magnetic building toys encourage kids to use their hands (and minds) to design and build structures. The best part? These magnetic toys build kids’ STEAM skills — mixing science, technology, engineering, art, and math to entertain and educate!
Here’s how kids can get hands-on with Squaregles:
Inspire them to think like an engineer. Ask them to design and construct gravity-defying, multidimensional structures. Find new ways to combine their favorite Squaregles sets and create an epic kingdom for their Oggs!
Create a race track and have their Oggs characters compete! Kids can design and redesign the track and create obstacles for characters to dodge.
Challenge them to think outside the box. Ask your kids to bring to life stories for their Oggs characters, design colorful paperboards to match, and act out exciting new adventures.
What other benefits of off-screen toys can kids (and parents) enjoy?
3. Kids Engage Fully in the Moment
Isn’t it amazing how much time passes when we scroll on our phones? The same thing happens with our kids and screen time. Off-screen activities give kids a chance to be more mindful in the present moment.
Teaching kids about mindfulness boosts their focus and helps them cope with stress.
One way to introduce your kids to present moment awareness is by making it the name of the game.
Ask them to close their eyes and pinpoint specific scents. Hold a flower or food in front of their nose and ask them what the aroma reminds them of.
Have a blind taste test. Give them small bites of certain foods and ask them to savor every bite to figure out what it is.
4. They Strengthen Social Connections
Some on-screen activities encourage social connections, but nothing beats face-to-face interactions. Going offline and connecting with other kids in person allows children to practice social cues and emotional awareness.
Engaging in open-ended play with others teaches kids about body language and tonality. And they’ll carry these lessons with them well into adulthood!
We’ve covered the benefits of off-screen activities. Now it’s time to inspire your kids to lose themselves to hours of unplugged play.
Here are some ways you can get them involved in the process:
1. Lead by example. Our kids always watch what we do, so cutting down on screen time starts with us parents setting the example.
2. Block out time for on-screen and off-screen activities. Talk to your kids and work together to create a schedule you can all stick to.
3. When they play unplugged, jump in on the fun! Bonding through play creates lifelong memories and encourages everyone to be more active at home.
4. Find active toys that stimulate them to think outside the box. Need inspiration? Check out Squaregles’ Challenge Club!
Nowadays, it’s near impossible to forego screen time altogether. But it’s up to us parents to show them how fun, stimulating, and exciting off-screen activities can be! Once they’re immersed in unplugged play, they’ll likely be unable to pull away.
Remember that moderation is the best approach. Find a balance between the two, and your kids will enjoy diverse play styles, each with unique developmental and learning benefits.
Looking for outside-the-box activities that’ll engage them—and you—for hours?
Kickstart unplugged play with educational magnetic toys from Squaregles today!