Smart Phones and tablets out, imagination in. Activities that don’t involve screens can help children’s development and provide hours of fun.
Benefits of screen-free time
- Encourages family time
- Encourages physical activity
- Improves sleep patterns
- Regulates mood
- Improves social skills and wellbeing
- Improves academic performance
- Makes time for other interests
You can limit your children’s screen time by creating a schedule or making them earn it by giving them screen-free tasks!
Screen-free toys and activities
Stimulate young minds to help children understand the world and develop new skills.
Infants use their bodies to explore the world while learning to recognise and control objects, sights, sounds, textures and tastes.
Screen-free toys for babies:
- Nursery mobiles
- Unbreakable mirrors
- Stacking and nesting toys
- Washable stuffed animals and dolls
- Soft cloth and heavy cardboard books
Toddlers enjoy physical activities, as well as developing a sense of community and language skills.
Screen-free toys for toddlers:
- Picture books
- Blocks and balls
- Push-and-pull toys
- Large peg-top puzzles
- Playdough with simple tools
- Stuffed animals
In preschool years children develop skills playing with others and the ability to attach language to actions and ideas.
Screen-free toys for pre-schoolers:
- Art materials
- Ride-on toys
- Puppets and props
- Construction toys
- Simple musical instruments
- Outdoor play materials such as play sand
School-age children (up to 8 years old)
Through playing, children learn about teamwork and following rules. They can now organise objects, ideas and skills in logical and interconnected ways.
- Board games
- Construction tools
- Science equipment
- Items to collect
- Modelling and craft materials
- Tools for performances and storytelling
- Materials for creating small worlds like dolls houses and castles
- Role play toys
How screen-free toys can aid development
Nursery mobiles – Objects moving stimulate vision and help develop attention span.
Ring stacks – Infants enjoy feeling and chewing the rings as well as learning to stack them.
Balls – Throwing and catching practises motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
Shape-sorting toys – Pegboard puzzles challenge hand-eye coordination and problem-solving.
Arts and crafts – Activities like drawing pictures strengthen coordination and encourage creativity.
Construction sets – Encourages problem-solving, hand-eye coordination and use of imagination
Board games – Teaches about strategy, taking turns, negotiating and understanding rules.
Musical instruments – Encourages listening, fine motor skills and can help with improving focus and attention span.
How much screen time for kids?
There are also plenty of activities that use screens that are beneficial for development, including age-appropriate, educational and interactive content and games.
Under 2s – Babies and toddlers should be kept away from all screens
2-5 years – No more than an hour a day
5-12 years – No more than two hours per day
Be a role model
Actions speak louder than words. It’s much harder to enforce rules about screen time if you use your phone a lot or put the TV in as soon as you get home.