TV-free games: fun with the television turned off

TV-free games: fun with the television turned off

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While plenty of  parents these days claim to have a TV-free household we all know that those parents are either liars or they are Amish and living in a technology-free village where they all get together and raise a barn every Sunday.

Even the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations on television are do-able. Their recommendations cite one to two hours per day as acceptable and not likely to stunt children’s emotional and cognitive development.  (As long as that hour or two does not involve watching mindless guff like The Biggest Loser or wildly inappropriate content like, Californication.)

So this article is not going to beat you over the head with stats on obesity and stunted cognitive development and all the usual hoo-ha about how your kids will end up blubbery and brain dead if they watch too much television. We assume you already know all that and are mindful.

We’re simply going to give you a few alternatives to the idiot box and prove that “TV-free fun” is not an oxymoron.

When looking for a TV-free activity (that's still fun) you need to look for one that:

  • your kids will love
  • will provide a bonanza of learning and developmental benefits
  • will leave them feeling energised and happy as opposed to depleted and droopy

In choosing activities you need to carefully consider the various types of play that are important for a child’s total development:

  • discovery play (cognitive stuff)
  • physical play (gross motor)
  • creative and imaginative play
  • manipulative play (Not manipulating each other! Fine motor skills like using scissors and drawing.)
  • social play (cooperation and sharing)

But never fear! We've road-tested some activities for you. Check out our top TV-free activity video tutorials. They are all tried and true examples of developmental boosting fun (no TV needed). Anything that didn’t work, couldn’t be used – mainly because the kids just lost interest and wandered out of frame.  (For eg, our homemade lava lamp, which sounded so promising, was just some oily red water in a bottle.)

“The academy recommends no screen time for children younger than two and less than an hour or two for those older than two.” From the article, “Kids watch more than a day of TV each week.” Los Angeles Times, October 27, 2009

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