One Easy Method Decreases Screen Time & Improves Skill Development
How many scientists and engineers do your kids personally know and interact with regularly? I bet it’s not often enough.
The earlier our kids are exposed to STEM-based and interactive learning, the higher the chance they will experience of success in all aspects of life.
But, if we don’t have easy access to one-on-one mentoring from an engineer, what else can we do to ensure our kids have all the tools they need to not only succeed but also get ahead of the game?
I’m going to tell you one of the most reliable methods in STEM/STEAM learning while leaving out screen time!
Interactive play with STEM certified bricks is one of the best ways to learn how to use computational thinking, reasoning, and have a flexible mindset to solve a problem.
These are key players to a well-rounded child that has the ability to surpass their classmates, where excellence is the “status quo” of a STEM developed brain.
Click on the highlighted word to “jump” to a section below.
1. What Happens During Screen Time?
Learning through games on iPads and cell phones is helpful, but not as the only way. While we first thought this would be an advantage for our children, we are seeing the horrible effects on mental and physical health when there is too much exposure.
I remember playing math-based online games when I was younger, but I spent maybe 1 hour a day on the computer. The rest was hands-on learning and with friends.
I think that as we learn to have a healthy balance between technology and good old fashion STEM learning through interactive play, we will see our children grow up properly equipped to succeed in top positions.
Screen time has proven to show many disadvantages for mental and physical health, especially these days with overuse.
According to a British study, adolescents spend 6+ hours a day on the screen, YIKES!
High levels of screen time can cause:
- A higher likelihood in having lower grades
- A lesser ability to focus on skill-based activities
- Depression and mood swings
- A Lesser connection to reality
- Difficulty falling asleep due to the electrical and light stimulation of the brain
- Influence by ads on foods and drinks that have very bad nutritional value
- A higher incidence of heart disease and high blood pressure
Advanced intelligence is achieved through a variety of applications, along with balance.
So, what are we missing?!
I’m glad you asked. We are missing a very important component to raise a well-rounded child that will one day make decisions for us.
So, how do we properly equip our children to not only enjoy learning but learn fast with minimal frustration and confusion?
Interactive and creative play that is STEM certified.
This is the secret to developing success.
Interactive play is a very broad term. What exactly determines STEM/STEAM certified play as compared to just playing with toys?
First, science, engineering, and math are made complete by the technology component that would provide creative and innovative ways to problem-solve. Plus, it would apply what has been learned.
Research suggests that limiting screen time will benefit cognition, memory, attention span, processing speed, and language. They are better developed through LESS screen time.
Let’s add this STEM certified method and we have a superstar in the making, growing up in our home!
How to Decrease Screen Time with Ease
I’ve discovered if we casually suggest and implement a hands-on activity with your child, it will decrease screen time, with little battle.
Distract your baby and get them excited to play with STEM toys while decreasing screen time to see those milestones achieved faster.
For example, for about a month, I’ve swapped out 30 minutes of TV time with 30 minutes of STEM learning through STEM certified Brick play, puzzles, and interactive reading books with my daughter.
I chose these toys specifically so that she could develop specific skills independently for the most part and they’re easy to store, plus they’re affordable.
So, it’s a triple win for us all.
STEM toys are an easy distraction because it’s exciting to do something new.
Then, the children realize how much fun this new STEM activity is because the reward section of their brain is being hijacked by an activity that stimulates rewarding feelings and many emotions in a positive manner.
Before you know it, they’ll be choosing these activities on their own.
Another thing I noticed is that my daughter was more engaged with brick play than she was watching a TV show because I was there to determine when she needed help and when she should figure it out on her own as she counted, matched and stacked the bricks.
It’s rewarding to see a child learn how to develop better habits naturally by influencing their “free play”.
As if those weren’t enough goals to achieve, her sentences are more structured compared to before due to organic communication between the both of us.
I talk to her like an adult and explain in adult terms through visual stimulation as we “play”.
So, if that means 30 minutes less screen time and 30 minutes more bonding and STEM learning time; we’ve just killed two birds with one stone (for pretend).
By doing this, we re-wire their brains to naturally choose STEM learning so that they decrease screen time. This is rewarding on various cognitive levels.
Basically, these go from habit-forming sessions that require our input to learned behavior and proper decision-making skills for their future.
Plus, this creates stronger emotional well-being and stronger parent/child relationship.
Fun learning with decreased screen time is an easy way to distract a child from thinking about sitting down in front of the screen for hours.
Did you know in order to have a fully developed habit, we need to stop the habit and replace it with a good one for at least 66 days.
This is a conscious effort, so doing this even when we don’t want to is key to adopting a healthier habit. Although, I think it’s much easier for kids to adopt a habit of playing fun activities compared to eating vegetables instead of ice cream.
Today is a perfect day to start swapping out screen time for STEM time!
By trying #BrickMates screen free challenge, your kiddo will have this new sense of well-being along with increased cognitive function.
Don’t believe it will work? Prove me wrong!
Try it out for yourself and use our hashtag #brickmates to keep us updated on your STEM journey.
We want to hear the ups and downs of it all! Although, I’m pretty sure there will so many more ups than downs.
2. Interactive Play that is STEM certified
STEAM/STEM certified play that is interactive provides us milestones that are advanced, yet achievable for any child at any stage of development.
Not only do we pick age-appropriate, hands-on activities, but also the types of activities I suggest below are perfect for children ages 2-8.
Plus, children want to learn. They are curious little beings who crave stimulating education.
Let’s not crush their souls so young through overuse of screen time and instead, give them what they truly want!
By providing them with specifically hands-on STEM learning, they will learn how to solve problems, how to communicate effectively through back and forth conversation, how to process information faster and develop creativity.
By experimenting with new ideas while playing with hands-on toys, they learn from mistakes and boost confidence.
- Trial and error boost confidence even if they experience failure at some point. It’s an opportunity to analyze what failed and what needs to change in order to improve.
This is crucial to success in every aspect of our lives, whether it’s relationships, projects at school, work, or in other areas.
- Social interaction allows creativity and imagination to thrive as it’s an organic environment where they are hearing and seeing emotion from another child or adult as opposed to an artificial computer talking back.
Games that focus on rewarding your child as they learn self-control is one way to teach how to get along with others and how to be respectful.
- Independent learning is crucial. This provides an opportunity to acknowledge available opportunities and time to think, plan, and execute on their ideas to learn and grow.
First, we have limited time between picking them up from school/daycare, cooking dinner, and then preparing for bed. It’s practical and much easier to incorporate into our fast-paced world.
Second, our children need to develop STEM-based skills through personal development. If we are next to them telling them how to complete something every step of the way, they are not critically thinking and therefore, not learning so they can’t apply these methods in the real world.
3. Brick Play Paves the Way
Earlier I mentioned that I specifically chose 3 types of STEM certified activities for my daughter.
Giving your child choices allows them to practice making good choices and gives them a sense of control which is important in development.
So, by providing STEM certified hands-on activities, it’s a perfect guide to free play while decreasing screen time.
Here’s why I chose Brick Mates® puzzles and activity toys as one of the best methods for STEM hands-on learning:
- Engineering by making spaceships, cupcakes, animals, and so forth encourages creativity while giving them the ability to learn about their environment and manipulate it.
- Brick Mates® are compatible with other building blocks to allow free play after completing the puzzle. Kids can even create their own designs.
- Varying difficulties is great for children to grow into new puzzle sets.
- With Brick Mates®, kids develop physical skills by holding puzzle pieces and turning them until they fit. Hand-eye coordination, gross motor skills, and fine motor skills are perfected as they practice daily.
- They support emotional development by teaching patience and kids are rewarded when they’re puzzle is completed correctly.
- This is the best way for your child to understand their surrounding world. Children can literally manipulate the world around them as they build and connect each puzzle piece to the board or even connect bricks to each other since they snap into each other.
- Compare similarities and differences, variation and numbers and shapes.
An option of reading interactive books is a great STEM alternative to screen time if the books:
- Show assimilation of new ideas
- Explore multiple solutions to a problem
- Model real-world application
- If the books have pictures for the child to decipher what the pictures mean. Simply looking at pictures and deciphering what the pictures mean is important to a child who can’t read yet.
- Ask questions to the reader to get them to think.
- Show a process of working through trial and error.
It’s so refreshing to hear my daughter ask to play with these toys over watching some of her shows. Another parent win for today!
STEM-based books and Brick Mates® STEM certified puzzles offer unique and powerful learning experiences. Our children are at an advantage when using these types of stackable puzzles because they provide well-rounded skill development while ditching the screen.
Now that I’ve used this easy Brick Mates® screenless method with my daughter, I just had to tell everyone else who is struggling to decrease screen time without a fight.
Once your little one is exposed to these options, I’m sure they’ll be inspired to play with STEM-based toys too.
Share this on social media and tag us so that other parents can learn this easy, fight-free method to child development without the screen!