Lifestyle & Parenting

8 Easy Alternatives To Screentime

March 19, 2024

The mom guilt is real when we see our kids zeroed in on a device, but let’s face it—it’s all about survival and they’re going to have their screentime, just like us. But it doesn’t have to consume every waking moment of your child’s free time. Being the mom of an 11-year-old, I am constantly looking for things my son can do in lieu of video games or watching YouTube videos. Here are 8 really easy alternatives to steer clear of screens for a while. —Jennifer Cox


Reading doesn’t mean sitting at a desk with a novel—reading should be something that’s fun for your child, no matter what their age. While there are tons of cool chapter book series out there for those who are seasoned readers, many of them have graphic novel versions that can be easier to read because they’re quick and interactive. And there aren’t just books – there are magazines, comic books, learning books, and fun titles like the Guinness Book of World Records or the Weird But True books. Read in the living room, in a fort, under the stairs, outside, at a café, in a park, on the grass, in the car, under a tree, wherever you like!

Science Experiments

You can get as carried away as you want with this activity because there’s something for every age. When my son was younger, we did science lab setups during bathtime where he mixed coloured water and different soaps, and as he got older, we took the science play outside. When they’re tweens, they can do messier, more complicated science-type projects: growing crystals, robotics, making homemade beauty products, tie-dye, and more. Mix baking soda and vinegar, do leaf rub drawings, make a solar oven and see what you can cook in it, go on a nature scavenger hunt, have an egg drop competition … the choices are endless!

Outdoor Play

There’s always something fun to do in the sun and the snow, but don’t shy away from wind and rain. No matter what the weather, you can find a fun activity that’s better than watching YouTube shorts. In the wind you can make and fly a kite or create wind-powered vehicles, and when it’s raining outside, you can make mud pies or bring the bath toys outside to play.


I would venture a guess that almost every household with kids has some LEGOs in it too. And you can do sooooo much with these timeless building blocks. Do a family LEGO challenge: who can build the tallest building or the fastest car, make their initials, fashion something that travels on a zipline, or create something that floats. Tween and teens could make cell phone holders or jewellery boxes. The options are infinite.

Arts & Crafts

The Internet is overflowing with creative ideas that kids of all ages can do. Whether you look for something based on their interests, or you seek out projects that cater to the time of the year, there is literally something for everybody. If you Google “cool crafts,” you’ll find more than 205 million ideas. That’s 205 million reasons to forgo the screen.

Board Games

You can go for a classic like Monopoly, The Game of Life, or Battleship, or you can play a new modernized board game such as Taco vs Burrito or Exploding Kittens. Some local libraries allow you to borrow board games, or you could organize a game swap with a few other families and try some new ones out. Board games are great for critical thinking as well as spending quality time together.

Cooking or Baking

Kids and tweens love spending time in the kitchen. Not only is it fun to experiment with different ingredients and recipes, but it’s also a great way to introduce new culinary options while teaching your child a valuable life skill. Desserts are the easiest starting point (get a boxed mix if you’re new to baking), but other fun things to make are homemade pizzas, breads, and sauces for pasta.

Fort Building

Kids young and old love the whimsy of a cool fort. You can build them in a hidden location like in the closet or under the stairs or dining room table, or stretch out a large sheet across a room and secure it in place. Outfit it with fun stuff: twinkly lights, activities, art supplies, and snacks.   


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