Offer alternatives to screentime and maximize kids' potential

Nurse practitioner Kassie Maasen said helping your kids find hobbies they enjoy is one alternative to screen time.

May is Screen Free Month, and medical professionals said offering alternatives is a great way to cut down your kids' screen-time.

In this week's Family First segment, KRCG 13 spoke with SSM Health nurse practitioner Kassie Maasen about how to implement activities other than screen time for your child to choose.

Maasen said screen time is an easy way to bust boredom for kids; however, letting your kids use too much tech too often could have some serious drawbacks.

"Screen time is bad for the eyes, it can affect vision. It can affect the brain in a bad way. So it's important that we offer alternatives so our kids can get out and play and be active," she said.

Maasen said you can cut down how much time your family spends aimlessly on screens by helping your kids find hobbies they enjoy.

"At five o clock, we do this. At six o clock, we do this... to where they don't have that downtime to where they can just sit around and watch TV, or sit around and be on their phones," she said.

When recreation is the goal, Maasen suggested activities that foster communication and connection: "Play boardgames, get outside, get outdoors, be active, play cards. At meal time, turn off the tv, have a conversation."

Maasen said her personal key to reducing screen time reliance is heading outside. She said it can help to show your kids the real world is more fun than the one on their cell phone.

"We try and go outside, especially around this time of year it's nice out. So we go outside and we play. I have a little girl so we go pull her around in a wagon, or go play outside with her, just keep her active, to teach her at a young age that cell phones aren't important, TV isn't important, there's other things we can do."

Follow Maasen's advice and cut down on screen time this month - make an effort to offer alternatives and focus on family fun this May instead.

Watch KRCG 13 next Friday at 5 p.m. for our next Family First segment. We'll talk with a doctor about how parents can model appropriate screen time use behavior.

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