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Want to limit kids' screen time? Try a digital detox

Digital detox for kids

Between remote learning, video games and social media, it’s common for kids to experience digital overstimulation. It’s worth having an occasional digital detox day to help kids unwind with screen-free activities.

While it’s easy to go electronics-free for a digital detox day, it’s essential to have other activities lined up to engage kids. A trip to the park or beach are fun outdoor options, especially when sports or arts and crafts are involved. Popular indoor activities include puzzles, building projects and even hands-on experience in the kitchen. 

How unplugging for a day may help kids

Benefits eye health

Spending long hours in front of screens due to school, video games or watching TV can wear on your eyes. According to the American Optometric Association, prolonged screen time may lead to digital eye strain, dry eyes, headaches or difficulty sleeping. 

As a result, it’s recommended to unplug from devices when possible to alleviate these symptoms. A digital detox can help set the stage for what the AOA refers to as healthier “visual hygiene.” Ideally, kids and adults should take a 20-second break from screens every 20 minutes to view an object 20 feet away to minimize digital eye strain. 

Boosts activity levels

A 24-hour digital detox challenge often inspires kids to get more active during the day. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that kids between ages 6 to 17 years should engage in an hour of “moderate-to-vigorous intense physical activity each day.” 

Without the hindrance or distractions of devices, kids may find it easier to enjoy sports and physical activities, whether it’s swimming, running around a park or playing tag. Older kids, namely high school-aged kids, may prefer spending their digital detox day at the gym, track or basketball court. 

Encourages family time

Digital detox isn’t just for kids. Instead, it’s something the entire household can participate in and benefit from doing.

If everyone unplugs for a day together, there’s more time to bond and talk over board games, storytime, or home improvement projects. Or, the digital detox may present the ideal opportunity to enjoy an undistracted day trip, museum visit or outdoor excursion. 

Indoor and outdoor options for a digital detox

Indoor activities

If the weather isn’t suitable for outdoor fun, there are plenty of indoor activities to enjoy during a digital detox day. Kids with culinary curiosity may enjoy experimenting in the kitchen with family recipes or Raddish, a kid-friendly cooking kit that features cuisines and dishes from around the world.

Outdoor activities

The backyard, park or pool are fun places for kids to play device-free. Investing in a new outdoor toy or game to enjoy during detox day is worth considering, too. Throw Throw Burrito, for example, is a dodgeball-inspired card game for ages 7 and older that keeps kids on their toes as they duck from flying burritos. 

Best toys and activities for 24-hour digital detox challenges

A Lego Creator set

LEGO Creator 3-in-1 Townhouse Toy Store is a 554-piece building set that offers three project configurations. Suitable for ages 8 and older, well-received for its realistic details and vibrant bricks. 

An all-ages board game

Every household member can play Apples to Apples Junior, a wacky word association game with outrageous comparisons. It comes with 1,000 cards and you can play with as many as eight players. 

An outdoor exploration kit

Tap into kids’ curiosity with Kids Xplore Nature Exploration Kit, which comes with binoculars, magnifying glass, nets and specimen containers. The kit helps kids learn map-reading skills and teaches kids the basics of nature-watching. 

A set of dive toys

Step up pool-time fun with Intex Underwater Play Sticks, a set of five quick-sinking toys. They’re made with soft, flexible silicone and have rounded edges for safe handling. 

A giant block game

The TIMBER Giant Timber Wood Game can grow as high as 5 feet when players flex their block-stacking skills. An all-ages-friendly game, it’s considered a favorite option for household-wide detox days spent outdoors. 

A karaoke machine

This Bluetooth KaraoKing Karaoke Machine for Kids has plenty of high-tech features kids can enjoy while they belt out their favorite tunes. The machine, which has a built-in disco ball, connects with most devices for easy streaming.

A camping tent

If a camping excursion is in the cards, either in the backyard or somewhere local, the Coleman Cabin Tent is a wise investment for its 60-second setup. The tent has a spacious 8 feet by 7 feet interior and fits one queen-size air bed. 

A Nerf blaster

Take a game of tag to the next level with the NERF Elite 2.0 Commander RD-6 Blaster. It’s equipped with a rotating drum that blasts six darts up to 90 feet. As one of the more affordable NERF blasters, many people invest in several to enjoy all-out blaster battles. 

A rock-painting kit

The Creativity for Kids Hide & Seek Rock Painting Kit comes with 10 rocks and eight colorful paints. Because the paint is weather-resistant, you can place the painted rocks around the yard. 

An anime-drawing guide

The “The Master Guide to Drawing Anime” by Christopher Hart" teaches kids how to draw six popular anime figures, including vengeful bad guys. The book includes step-by-step demonstrations as well as templates and outfit guides. It’s recommended for kids ages 14 and older. 

A sewing machine

From fabric crafting to fashion design, sewing is a fun activity on digital detox days. The Singer Sewing Machine includes 97 stitch applications and is considered a beginner-friendly option.


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Sian Babish writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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