According to research by the Nickelodeon® network, the average American child watches 35 hours of television each week. Add another ten or so hours for gaming and a few hours of content viewed on computers and “iDevices” and you’re talking about a generation addicted to blue screens. However, the same Nick survey revealed that 80 percent of kids wanted to spend more time with their parents. That leaves an opening for weaning your kids from big (and little) screens.
- Weekly Craft Night: Randomly turning off the TV can elicit anything from groans to full-blown tantrums. Have a family meeting and pick a specific time and day to dedicate to crafts. If everyone agrees to, say, Tuesday at 7 p.m., turning off the tube will not be met with steely resistance.
- Follow, Don’t Lead: Rather than imposing projects on the kids, ask them what type of craft projects they want to pursue. Go to the library or search the Internet for projects that interest everyone.
- Make a Mess: As any kid will tell you, making a big mess is more fun than sitting in front of the tube. Get out the old magazines, safety scissors, and paper glue to make collages. Whip up some homemade play-dough, bake a cake, or create a terrarium with a big glass bowl, dirt, and plant cuttings. Get everyone to pitch in with the cleanup.
- Create Your Own Shows: Hey, why not? Most TV is pretty bad anyway—and far less entertaining than watching sis make a fool of herself. See if the kids can write and perform their own short skits or embark on a weekly TV series. Start with a favorite story, make up some characters, or create random situations. Make costumes and scenery and get the pets involved.
- Set Up a Craft Table: It’s easier to keep the TV off and the projects going when there’s a special area for crafts. Set aside a large table to hold ribbons, tape, crayons and markers, paper, glue, glitter, scissors, and other essentials. Put it next to the TV and who knows, maybe the kids will turn off the tube on their own.