Cyber experts recommend their top fave screen-time activities - guaranteed to keep kids of all ages happy, safe and focused during the holidays.
Prying your kids off the screen during the holidays is not exactly an impossible dream, but … No, actually we take that back. It IS an impossible dream.
And more to the point, maybe even a misguided one.
Screens are not the enemy. Screens used poorly are. So instead of banning your kids from their devices during the coming holidays, put your energy into finding healthy and creative screen-time activities.
There are only 24 hours in a day - even during the summer holidays. And most parents are painfully aware that every hour spent in front of a screen is an hour spent indoors and sitting down. So getting our kids up and moving is a priority in every digital family.
But it doesn’t have to be a case of screens OR physical activity. In fact, there’s a whole host of apps and sites that have been developed to engage their bodies as well as their minds. Experts recommend:
Sworkit Kids is a straightforward app offering a variety of workout options, including strength training, agility, and flexibility and balance. Kids can choose the length of their workout as well, from five minutes to an hour.
This is one of the best fitness apps for older kids who don’t need a lot of bells and whistles to get them excited. Bonus: The exercises are challenging enough for mum or dad to get in on the action and get a good workout too!
7-minute Workouts with Lazy Monster Seven minutes and no equipment? What’s not to like?!
This super fun, family-focused fitness app features a silly, animated monster who acts as your child’s personal trainer - leading them through each level, from the basic Lazy Workout (running in place and squats) to the Super Hero workout.
This one is great for all ages, but especially so for younger kids with short attention spans and low boredom thresholds.
Note: The app comes with the Lazy Workout for free, but the other workouts will require an in-app purchase.
Go Noodle is a free, interactive site with short videos and interactive games (3-5 min) that encourages kids to take regular movement breaks - called “brain breaks” in GoNoodle-speak - throughout the day.
The site and associated app feature a huge collection of online games designed to energise, focus and relax the 14 million kids who are monthly users. Try “Run the Red Carpet” for some fast kiddy-cardio, “The Maximo” to restore focus through yoga or “AirTime” to keep anxiety at bay.
Bonus: you can also print and complete a progress chart for your child, with at-home ideas for non-screen activities.
PE with Joe is a Youtube workout guy who has nailed the primary school market (and their parents) with this daily free home workout.
Cosmic Kids Yoga is another popular family option to get your zen on during the holiday madness. Try it free for 14 days.
No matter what your child’s creative passion - visual art, music, craft, literature, animation or coding - the internet is a wonderland of ideas and resources. Here is just the tip of the tip of the tip of the inspirational iceberg.
Book creator is a simple yet powerful tool for creating awesome digital books that include video, photos, drawings, and sound. Background, text, and images can be easily customised, and finished work shared in digital format as a PDF, ePub or video.
Telestory If your child yearns to create YouTube-style videos starring herself as the main character, then she’ll love this app. It allows your child to become a character in his own story, complete with animations and background music. In the process, she’ll learn the process of making a movie, from writing to directing, to rehearsing, to recording. Free, ages 6-11.
Toontastic 3D What’s better than storytelling? Creating a story with 3D animations and your own voice as audio, of course! You can even incorporate family photos into the story. When finished, your child can save her story as a video. Free, ages 6-8.
Scribblenauts Remix, an award-winning video game, now available for iOS and Android, is a vocabulary-building word puzzle for ages 11+.
GarageBand is a powerful digital music workstation and multitrack recorder (now available for iOS) that lets kids create songs and soundscapes in a number of ways - by sequencing high quality pre-recorded loops, by playing virtual instruments (guitars, basses, strings, keyboards, and drums), or by recording live instruments and vocals.
Apple’s tagline - “Incredible music, in the key of easy” - pretty much says it all. Kids can share their GarageBand songs via social media, email, or text, even export them to iMovie and iTunes.
Scratch, developed at the famed MIT Media Lab, lets kids get creative with coding to program their own interactive stories, games, and animations for free - and share their creations with others in the online community.
Mindfulness is a valuable skill that kids can develop from a very early age, setting them up for success and empowering them to better cope with life's hurdles.
Smiling Mind is a unique, free app developed by psychologists and educators to help bring balance to the lives of adults and kids alike by practicing daily meditation and mindfulness exercises from any device.
Stop, Breathe and Think Kids is a free mindfulness app designed to get kids aged 5-11 into a positive daily routine by discovering the superpowers of quiet, focus and more peaceful sleep. It features games and activities to help kids check in with their emotions, adopt calming breathing techniques, and win stickers for completing activities.
Mindful Powers is an award-winning, scientifically based app designed to let kids take control of complex – and often scary – emotions, through a series of progressive voice-guided stories. The aim? To master the power of mindfulness (defined here as “the ability to know and understand what is happening in one’s head at any given moment without getting carried away by it”) to develop serenity and focus.
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