As the days get shorter and nights get longer, you might notice an increase in your family’s screen time. While epic gaming and binging Netflix are OK now and again, too much time staring at a screen can be damaging for everything from health to mood to even relationships. Technology may seem like the culprit here, but there’s no need for a full digital detox. We’ve rounded up a few easy alternatives for using the internet that can entertain, educate and improve your life – all without staring at a screen.
Let’s start with Podcasts. Using apps like iTunes, Stitcher or PocketCasts, you can download and listen to a very wide variety of audio programs that can be listened to while on a walk, in your car, or anywhere on the go. Podcasts can be funny, entertaining and sweet, or they can also be informative, heartbreaking or even awe-inspiring. Since there are so many different kinds of podcasts, there really is something for everyone to listen to. With podcasts, you can learn new things, get up to date on current events, be entertained or even explore new interests. All without staring at a screen.
Another idea for using the internet for offline activities is to download free materials that can be used for education, relaxation or just fun. If you don’t have time to sit and read, listening to books is the next best thing using services like Amazon’s Audible book streaming service, or Overdrive/Libby, which works with more than 30,000 libraries and allows people to “check out” audio books using their library cards.
How about free adult coloring pages? Or age-appropriate learning materials for children? Hobby or craft instructions are also prolific online for learning everything from calligraphy and crochet to home cooking and even home brewing. Spend five minutes searching for your interests and you’re sure to find materials you can download, print and use for hours of productive time offline.
Finally, there are services like Pandora, Apple Music, Spotify and Google Play Music for accessing the music you love that can be used as a soundtrack for your life. Music is a great motivator when exercising, or it can help you relax and find your Zen after a stressed-out day. An impromptu backyard BBQ with friends and family is much more fun with upbeat tunes, and dancing with your loved one instead of watching TV is practically the definition of quality time.
We love internet – but we understand the importance of spending quality time away from the screen, too. And we hope these ideas spark a few of your own for using internet-connected resources as a way to connect and grow in person and in the real world.