A social media break: alternate activities to keep teens engaged

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We recently went away with a family who had an older child, not quite teens but it made me think about what can do over the coming years to stop the dependency on devices. At 6, Noah is very much a tablet or Xbox child, but thankfully he is just as happy to go out for a bike ride or swimming. As much as teens love spending time online, it’s wise to remember that too much of a good thing isn’t always good. Social media has made it easier to find lost friends and relatives, but the constant sharing of personal information and the ability to get it on demand have led to other problems like cyberbullying, anxiety and depression. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent your kids from getting too dependent on this phenomenon. Here are some alternate activities you can get your teens involved in.

Sports

While the benefits of physical exercise are well known, not everyone is aware of the additional benefits offered by sports. This is especially beneficial to teens, who are well on their way to adulthood.

Playing sports requires teamwork, dedication, accountability, and leadership. Each of these are of utmost importance in the workplace. If your teen’s free time is spent entirely on social media networks, they are more likely to encounter non-stop complaining, isolationism and entitlement mentalities that may eventually rub off on them. Sports also place an emphasis on achieving goals, which can help them realize what they are truly capable of accomplishing.

Music Lessons

Researchers have long touted the cognitive, behavioral and emotional benefits of music instruction in young children. However, recent studies suggest that the adolescent brain remains receptive to the type of training involved in learning to play an instrument.

Teens that are highly interested in listening to music are often drawn to creating it, themselves. The ability to differentiate between sounds peaks during childhood then declines with age. This sound sensitivity makes it easier to learn languages with variations in intonation and rhythm. It makes more sense to help them develop these faculties than allowing them to waste time on social media.

Art

It should be no surprise that children exposed to art would often develop their own artistic talents, but it also seems to make them better readers and writers. These abilities will likely improve with age, just as their artistic ability will.

The one thing all art forms have in common is that they teach kids of all ages to solve problems. Teens quickly learn to make their own choices and use their imaginations to create vivid manifestations of abstract ideas. Even simple drawing and coloring can awaken otherwise dormant faculties. If you’re unsure where to begin, you might want to check out this coloring book app on the Google App store.

Cooking

Cooking is a great way to bond with your teen while teaching them an important skill they can use for the rest of their life. It also provides an opportunity for them to relax and share whatever might be going on in their lives in a healthy environment, where they won’t face ridicule from cyber bullies.

Cooking also allows teens to discover practical uses for various math skills they’re learning in school. Fractions, measurements and even geometry can sometimes come into play while following a simple recipe.

Gaming

Parents often wonder if all the time their kids spend playing video games is good or bad. Fortunately, gaming does offer some very helpful benefits, provided it’s done in moderation.

Kids come into the world naturally curious about everything around them. They’re born with a natural desire to do things over and over again until they figure out how to do them correctly. If this weren’t the case, they’d never learn how to walk. Video games keep them connected to this way of thinking, while also teaching them to reach higher each time they play.

So while excessive gaming might be associated with insomnia and poor health, moderate exposure puts a teenager’s brain to work. They soon learn how to make increasingly difficult decisions under pressure, while understanding that minor failures do not necessarily mean that the game is over.

While there are upsides to being connected on social media, one should always exercise moderation. Teens are more susceptible to problems with peer pressure and bullying, so it’s that much more important to keep them engaged in activities that promote face-to-face contact and healthy physical activity. This can help prevent them from being overly-obsessed with their online personas.

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