It’s common knowledge that kids are spending an inordinate amount of time with electronics, staring at the screen of a computer, iPad or phone, fiddling with an app, a game, constantly interacting on social media or just plain texting, Snapchatting and Instagraming.
The good news is that there’s a little something you can do to make your kids a bit more socially healthy and less inhuman screen-dependent. When you have them in the car on the way to one of those uniquely fun day trips, get them away from the screens and into a car ride game.
They may even like it. If you feel like relenting and handing the phones and iPads back out of sheer frustration, remember that you are doing them a big favor just by taking this one small step away from the screens and toward healthier interaction. Think of the statistics.
They are staggering and all point to the “hooked on electronics” stage starting at a younger and younger age. For instance:
- According to CNN, 98 percent of households with children younger than 8 have some sort of mobile device at their disposal.
- Currently, 42 percent of kids 8 and younger have their own tablets. Only five years ago, that number was 7 percent. And seven years ago, it was only 1 percent.
- A report by Common Sense Media cited that kids 8 and younger spend nearly an hour, or 48 minutes, a day glued to the screen of a mobile phone or tablet. Five years ago, it was 15 minutes a day.
- And screen time on a mobile device has gone up to 35 percent compared to only 4 percent just more than a decade, or close to 11 years, ago.
So, when the kids pile in the car for that day trip, make them surrender the devices.
Once they do, have a little family chat and then launch into a game that doesn’t involve the electronics. There are so many oldies-but-goodies.
Everyone gets a bit bored driving for hours. So, if you’re looking to keep things entertaining, electronic-free and bonding while riding, try these ideas:
- How about the license plate game? Look at a license plate and make up a saying for what the initials and numbers stand for.
Find a plate, recite to everyone in the car what the plate is and then you have 30 seconds to make up the words that the initials and numbers stand for.
Or, you can make it simpler and just have them search for license plates on the road from all U.S. states and Canada. See who gets the most, or do it as a combined effort and keep track until you’re done.
- I Spy! This is a classic and always fun. “I spy with my little eye … something blue,” for instance. Or, you can say that you spy “something that rhymes with …” Let them figure out what it is you have your eye on.
For the car, though, make it something either in the car or close by that won’t go out of sight with the ride. This can be kept going for the entire ride. Each person in the car takes a turn being the one who “spies” and picks an object for others to find.
- I’m Going on a Picnic. This is a great memory-enhancement game. The first person starts with “I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing … something that starts with the letter ‘a.'” The next person repeats what the person before them said and adds something that starts with ‘b’ and so on. See how far you can get until someone forgets something. When a person forgets something on the list, they’re out. Keep going to see who’s left.
- 20 Questions. Choose a person, place or thing. People may ask up to 20 questions about it. If a player correctly guesses what it is before 20 questions are up, they then choose the next subject for the 20 questions.
Keep it going. This boosts concentration and a little creativity.
- Truth or Dare is always a fun game to play.
Ask a person to choose truth or dare to answer a question. If they choose truth, they must tell the truth. If they choose dare, they must complete the dare you ask of them. Keep it simple in the car!
Old-time family time can be the best of times. Try it!
So, turn off the DVD in the car, take the iPhones away. Eat healthy, enjoy one another’s company and play ’til you get to your fun-time destination. There’s nothing quite like healthy, fun family time all wrapped up in a simple day trip!