With the winter chill still in full swing, many of us are spending a lot of leisure time indoors. But that shouldn’t mean whiling away the time on your laptop while the kids give their thumbs a workout on their game consoles or watch copious hours of television. While media exposure in and of itself is not bad, Williamson points out that it’s important for parents to control the amount of time their little ones spend clicking away. To help you out, we’ve come up with a few alternative activities that you can all do around town (while still keeping warm, of course). No batteries or Wi-Fi required!
Media lure: Internet
Why your kids like it: Surfing the Internet increases activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which deals with short-term memory and decision making, according to a 2008 study by Gary Small, M.D.
Try this instead: Discourage multi-tasking by getting the kids involved in the engaging and educational exhibits at the Dallas Museum of Nature and Science, from examining DNA to digging for fossils. 214/428-5555; natureandscience.org
Media lure: Video Games
Why your kids like it: Goal-oriented activities like video games stimulate the frontal lobe and trigger basic instincts, according to Williamson.
Try this instead: Pick up a bowling ball and make it your goal to score the most strikes at an actual venue like 300 (knocking virtual pins down with a controller does not count!). Dallas, 972/620-7700; threehundred.com
Media lure: Cell Phones
Why your kids like it: For those of you with older kiddos (or younger ones who have been given phones “in case of emergencies,” take heed: According to a 2008 Harris Interactive study, a majority of U.S. teens view their cell phone as key to their social life.
Try this instead: Go out for dinner and a movie—no disruptive cell phones allowed! Even better—you can do both at one place at Studio Movie Grill. Dallas, 214/361-2966; studiomoviegrill.com
Media lure: Television
Why your kids like it: While watching TV, activity shifts from the left to the right brain, releasing endorphins, according to a study by researcher Herbert Krugman. Unfortunately, this means TV can actually become addicting.
Try this instead: Let the kiddos get their endorphins from exercise by hopping around on the bounce houses at Pump It Up. Dallas, 972/792-9663; pumpitupparty.com