5 tips to unplug and play with your children

Posted by / Saturday 30 July 2016 / Parenting Tips Activities
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When the weather isn’t sunny outside, it’s easy for children to default to playing on their devices, whether it’s a mobile phone or a tablet or games console.

We have over 600 services across the UK and so we spoke to parents and found that nearly a quarter of them struggle to get their children to “unplug” and take part in activities away from television, phone and computer screens. 

One of the best ways to maintain an open dialogue with your children about their lives is to have fun with them. Not only is this enjoyable for your whole family, but many children are more likely to confide in you in a relaxed, low-pressure setting.

Here's our top 5 tips to help you get your whole family to unplug and play:

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1. Plan fun activities for the whole family that don’t involve technology.

Idea: Sock Puppet Theatre

Putting on a show is lots of fun and it’s really easy to do. All you need are things that you probably have lying around the house – odd socks, old tights and other scraps of material.

Great for: helping children with their communication skills with role play and props. It also helps them gain confidence and encourages children to play as part of a group.

 Image via Andrea A

2. Create a balance between technology use and other activities by creating a weekly schedule on the principle of an hour of 'energy in' (technology use) equalling an hour of 'energy out' (other activities).

"Technology is an often necessary part of the lives of children and parents alike, but it’s important to maintain a balance with other activities and quality family time. We know from our extensive work with families that strong relationships with parents build resilience in children, making them less susceptible to bullying or abuse outside the home, and encouraging them to speak to their parents about any fears or concerns."

Carol Iddon, Director of Operations, Action for Children,
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3. Tap into your own experience: when you were a child, what was your favourite game to play? Share these with your children.

Idea: Den Building 

All you need is a clothes horse and a sheet! Or a large cardboard box! Or some pillows. If you want to go outside then definitely go for it, perhaps you could collect some big sticks from a nearby park and make a tee-pee!

Great for: creative thinking, sustained and shared thinking. It will also help your child understand how to plan, evaluate and investigate.

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4. Identify the challenges your children enjoy in the video games they play and replicate them. Do they like games about sport?

Idea: Family Sports Day

In our recent poll, sport was one of the top three activities children told us they wanted to do with their parents and with the Rio Olympics on the horizon why not turn your garden or a section of the local park into your very own sporting arena?

Great for: personal social and emotional development - more specifically making relationships. Providing a range of small and large equipment enables young children to develop their gross and fine motor skills.

5. Practice what you preach

When your children are having screen-free time, turn off your own devices too.

Even when we do have free time at home, with so much centered on our smart phones, televisions and tablets, you can easily pass like ships in the night.

Don’t waste the opportunity!

We're here to help families. Every step of the way.

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