Looking for things to do instead of social media for kids? Researchers are just beginning to understand social media's impact on children. And social media scrolling has proven to have numerous adverse effects. Luckily, there are many productive (and fun) things to do instead of social media!
We will discuss eight brain-building alternatives below to help you replace your child's social media scrolling. Not only are these alternatives to social media fun, but they will also positively impact your child's development.
The Impact of Social Media on Children
Did you know - kids now spend more time watching videos on TikTok than reading?
According to C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, 32% of children aged 7 to 9 and nearly 50% of children aged 10 to 12 use social media apps! In comparison, the number of children that read for fun regularly is at all-time lows.
This decrease in reading and uptake in social network use among children presents many concerns. Some of the most familiar dangers of online activity include cyberbullying, false marketing, online predators, and exposure to dangerous trends. These threats are present for both children and adults. However, because children’s brains are developing, they are much more susceptible to these dangers.
In addition to online safety concerns, parents often seek things to do instead of social media because of the following adverse health effects.
Negative Effects of Social Media on Children
- Lower self-esteem - social media often depicts an unrealistic account of people’s lives. Viewing idealistic content for prolonged periods can negatively impact a child’s mental health and overall self-view.
- Irritability - often, when children are asked to stop scrolling on social media and to move on to an unpreferred task, such as homework, they become irritable. This can make the transition to unpreferred tasks more difficult and cause tension between a parent and child.
- Inhibited social skills - social interactions in a face-to-face setting provide meaningful learning opportunities for children. For example, face-to-face interactions help kids develop essential social skills such as empathy, problem-solving, and communication. However, with social interactions becoming more frequent online, children may struggle to develop these crucial life skills.
- Increased anxiety - everyday anxieties are often exacerbated through social platforms. As a result, common stressors, such as feelings of inadequacy, fear of missing out, etc., are amplified. This can lead to increased anxiety and depression in children.
That said, social media does offer some benefits. This includes the ability to stay connected with others and exposure to some educational content. However, for many parents, social media's negative impacts and dangers outweigh these benefits. Thus, these parents focus on finding fun things to do instead of social media.
If you’re looking for social media alternatives for kids, here are some top things to do instead of social media.
8 Fun and Brain-Building Things To Do Instead of Social Media for Kids
Wondering what to replace social media with? The alternatives to social media for kids below are fun and productive! But, most importantly, these things to do instead of social media will benefit your child’s development and brain function.
Play a Game
Games offer excellent learning opportunities! They can help children practice and develop critical social skills. For example, turn-taking, collaboration, concentration and focus, and the ability to follow instructions. Some games can even promote academic skills, such as number representation and manipulation. Therefore, playing board games, math games, trivia, strategy games, etc., will provide much more value than social media.
Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are essential in many careers today. Therefore, you can encourage interest in these areas by helping your child explore these topics through hands-on activities. In addition, engaging in STEM activities, such as science experiments or coding challenges, promotes innovation, problem-solving, and other real-world skills.
Do a Puzzle
Puzzles are a great way to develop critical and creative thinking and problem-solving skills. They also promote collaboration. This category of things to do instead of social media may include jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles, lock puzzles, mechanical puzzles (e.g., Rubix Cube), math puzzles, and spot the difference puzzles, to name a few.
Explore the Outdoors
Nature also provides many rich opportunities for learning through hands-on exploration. Exploring the outdoors allows children to engage in problem-solving and authentic, experiential learning. Outdoor activities also promote a sense of curiosity and wonder and can help children better understand the world around them.
Encourage Free Play/Imaginative Play
Imaginative play is an extremely valuable learning tool that promotes language development, problem-solving, and imagination. Free play also helps children learn key social skills, including cooperation, roles and responsibilities, and empathy.
Explore the Arts
Engaging in artistic activities encourages creativity and allows children to engage in open-ended exploration. Art, including visual arts, dance, drama, and music, also supports the development of cognitive, social-emotional, and multi-sensory skills.
Listen to Music
Listening to music has numerous benefits. For instance, listening to music can reduce anxiety, increase focus and memory, boost mood, and reinforce language skills.
The Best Thing to Do Instead of Social Media - Read a Book
Reading is one of the best things to do instead of social media for kids! That’s because reading offers many social, academic, and cognitive benefits. In fact, reading ability is one of the top indicators for later student success.
Below, we’ll share more benefits of reading and explore why reading is better than social media.
Reading vs Social Media - Why Reading is Better Than Social Media
Reading is better than social media for countless reasons. It allows children to explore topics of interest, learn new things, and explore alternate worlds. As a result, reading promotes imagination, offers an escape, and helps to inspire young minds. In addition, reading can help children develop foundational language skills, improve concentration and focus, and engage in critical thinking!
Social platforms also provide children with intriguing and personalized content. However, this content most often consists of unrealistic photos and videos highlighting the idealistic lives of others. As a result of regular social media consumption, children spend more time comparing themselves to others. In addition, social media does not allow children to explore their imagination, practice language skills, or employ productive critical thinking. Thus, social media can have many negative social, emotional, and developmental impacts. Consequently, parents should promote reading and other things to do instead of social media.
Here’s how to replace your child’s social media scrolling with reading.
How to Replace Social Media Scrolling with Reading
Have you observed bored kids squandering hours swiping through social media? Want to replace social media scrolling with reading?
One of the best (and easiest) ways to replace social media with reading is with the help of a reading app for kids. Reading apps allow children to use technology to access books. Therefore, they gain all the benefits of reading while still enjoying the experience technology provides.
Some reading apps for kids even offer features similar to social platforms. Thus, by combining reading and social media-like technology, these reading apps can help parents motivate children to read!
Booka, for example, was designed with kids and their love of social platforms in mind! Similar to social apps, Booka lets children "swipe" through content curated based on their interests. However, Booka offers access to professionally written books and voiced-over picture books (similar to audiobooks) rather than meaningless content. Thus, kids can enjoy scrolling through topics of interest while also experiencing the various benefits of audiobooks and reading!
Looking for good audiobooks for kids or the whole family? Check out these top 10 best audiobooks for kids!
Ready to help your child find things to do instead of social media? Download Booka today!
*Available on iOS (iPhones and iPads).