Did you know that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend no more than 2 hours per day of screen time for children over the age of 2 and none for children under age 2? Yet, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation children between the ages of 8 through 18 are now spending an average of 7.5 hours a day in front of a screen for entertainment. There is a large amount of evidence that suggest that too much screen time can be linked to many health problems including obesity, behavioral problems, development delay and poor academic performance. On a road trip with small children, screens might feel like a necessity to make it to your destination.
Try a screen-free road trip this summer. Stick your electronics in the trunk (this goes for you too, mom and dad!) and look for new ways to spend time together by removing electronic devices and spending a little quality time with one another, not only will your health get a boost but you’ll build some wonderful family memories as well.
Here are a few ideas to help your family have a fun screen free road trip.
Listen to Audio Books: Have your children pick out some of their favorite stories, or find a favorite from your childhood and listen to them on the road. Granted, this might take your iPhone to make it happen, but listening to a story can be a treasured experience. Did you know that Neil Patrick Harris reads some of Beverly Cleary’s Henry Huggins books? You can find audio books on CD at your local library and some have online audio books available for download.
Read Books: Bring both reading and activity books and take turns reading or working on them (if car sickness isn’t an issue). When was the last time you sat down with a book of Mad Libs? Bonus: it’s a great summertime reminder about verbs, adverbs and adjectives
Listen to Music: You can either load up your music device with different songs that your family might enjoy on the trip or turn the dial to find your family’s favorites on local radio stations
Explore: Have your children look outside the windows and take the time to notice the different types of environment, animals and other objects that you pass on your road trip. Make it into a scavenger hunt or play “I Spy.”
Play games: Load up a bag full of different games that can be relatively easy to play within the car such as hangman, tic tac toe, crossword puzzles, Sudoku, the ABC game, or the license plate game.
Tell stories: Have each family member tell a different story whether it is a made up story or an old family tale. Just take the time to listen to one another and enjoy each other’s company for the ride.
What are the tips and tricks that have gotten your family through a summer road trip?
Tallon Tomasi is a senior at Colby Sawyer University majoring in public health. She plans to attend nursing school when she graduates and has spent the summer as an intern with Community Health Improvement at The University of Vermont Medical Center.