The ball as a positive tool for conversations around screen time

Play by Spark is a fun and interactive way to shift your child’s focus away from screen time to playtime, but we can still have those conversations without the ball. Children can understand the premise that too much screen time isn’t healthy, but due to the way a child’s brain works, they aren’t necessarily going to see things from your point of view straight away – and possibly won’t want to reduce their time on screens as it is something they enjoy (and their brain loves too).

Here are a few ways you might want to approach the topic with them:

  • You can talk about how when you are using a screen your brain REALLY likes it, but if you spend all your time on a screen your brain isn’t getting everything else it needs to develop well.
  • You can talk about times when the family has done things together that have not involved screens and how much fun that was to have the focused time together. 
  • Ask your child what it is they really like about screens, then try and help them think of ways they would like to get this through other experiences. 
    • If your child enjoys playing Minecraft, can you play LEGO with them instead?
    • If they enjoy watching YouTube videos can you sit with them and draw a storyboard to create a YouTube video?
    • Or if they enjoy learning facts about animals by watching videos, can you go to the library together and find a book about animals to read together? 

Notice there is a lot of “together” in this. Screens are generally a solo activity but humans are social creatures and our brains are wired for connection. We need to use this to help our brain learn different ways to get stimulation apart from screens.

Monkey see, monkey play

You are your child’s key person of influence. They ultimately want to be with, and do things, for you. You don’t need me to tell you that children do more of what they see you do and less of what you tell them to do! 

Children change their behaviour best when what they see and what they are told match. So you will need to stick to the goals you have set in terms of playing with them with the ball and lead on this. This is super important when your child loses interest. You need to be the cheerleader.