Inside JCPRD: Physical distancing as a family – how to limit screen time and keep active

By Alison Smith

With students taking part in distance learning and adults working from home, we are all spending more time online these days. It’s hard to determine just how much screen time is too much. Unfortunately, this is the temporary world we are living in, our temporary normal, everything is being done virtually for everyone’s safety. It’s not forever, this is our solution until things can get back to normal. Our partners at Children’s Mercy Fit-tastic work with the Campaign for a Commercial-free Childhood. CCFC recommends that we focus on content of screen time, quality over quantity. When we are on our phones, computers, tablets, and other devices, are we being mindful about what we’re actually doing on those devices? If we’re being productive and doing meaningful work on the screen such as school work, learning a new language, catching up with our best friend that we haven’t physically seen in three weeks, that’s great. But if we’re scrolling through social media, playing games, or watching videos, we could probably find something better to do with our time. It’s time to disconnect to reconnect.

Try these activities with your family:

  • Board Games. With so many to choose from, your family is sure to find a favorite…or two!
  • Yard games. Try a bean bag toss and include fun trick shots, create a yard word play game with a large piece of cardboard cut into squares with a letter on each square, or fly a kite.
  • Minute to Win It© games. Cotton ball blow, marshmallow and spaghetti noodle towers, candy color sort, egg toss, plastic egg towers, plastic cup building, and more. Letting kids create a challenge is also a great way for them to be involved.
  • Scavenger Hunts. Have an alphabet scavenger hunt inside your house – find an object that starts with each letter of the alphabet, or go on a neighborhood scavenger hunt to see how many signs you can find.
  • Chalk your Walk! There’s more than just art when it comes to sidewalk chalk. Walk the line, draw out an obstacle course on the driveway or sidewalk that includes jumping jacks, spins, frog jumps, and more!
  • Paper airplane golf. Set the course holes throughout the house, compete to see who can complete each hole with the least throws.

The sky is the limit when it comes to being active. When setting boundaries for your family on screen time, it’s important to practice what you preach. Children can pick up habits by seeing them at home. Now is the best time to value family time and yes, it’s ok for the adults to win too!

Alison Smith is the Wellness Coordinator for the Johnson County Park and Recreation District.