Great Non-Screen Alternatives for Young Kids During the Holidays

By: Amanda Kimball

If you have ever tried to take a piece of candy from a kid, then you know what kind of reaction can occur. A complete meltdown. The same thing can happen when trying to take an electronic device from a child. You’ve seen it in the grocery store or even at the park. When a phone or tablet is taken away from a toddler, the child will usually cry, yell, have a major tantrum, and sometimes even hit others. As a parent of 3 young children, I speak from experience and want to avoid this in the future. When it comes to eating candy I offer healthy alternatives such as an apple, a cheese stick, or a couple of pretzels. But what about electronic devices? What can I offer them as an alternative to watching a show or playing a game?

15 Unplugged Alternatives:

  1. Play-doh
  2. Legos
  3. Coloring books
  4. Puzzles
  5. Going to the park
  6. Going on a bike ride
  7. Playing outside with friends
  8. Going for a walk and see how many different types of animals they can name
  9. Playing catch
  10.  Reading a book
  11.  Making a blanket fort
  12.  Baking cookies or a cake together
  13.  Finger painting
  14.  Working together to create a meal
  15.  Crafting (with pipe cleaners, paper, stickers, yarn, sequins, fabric, beads, etc.)

When we give alternatives for electronic devices we engage their minds in a creative way. “Encourage your child to read, draw, paint, write, create, build, etc. This encourages your child to be true to himself, to find worth in his own beliefs, and to explore his own thoughts and desires” (, 2018). These “unplugged” alternatives, along with others, can hold so many benefits for our children. The benefits increase when we do these activities with our children.

Having face-to-face interactions can help our children with their self-confidence because it allows them the chance to socialize in a setting where they must practice communication skills and self-representation. This boost of self-confidence can help lead them to more friendships.

Candy is not always a bad thing but too much candy can be. Watching movies, TV shows, or using social media apps is just like candy. It isn’t a bad thing when used in moderation, however, when a child gets to the point where their entire world revolves around their electronics, it becomes unhealthy. So, try something different.

Here are some good resources to help keep your children safe and kind when using electronics. 

Social Media and Teens: The Ultimate Guide to Keeping Safe Online

Social Media and Teens: The Ultimate Guide to Keeping Kids Safe Online

Noah’s New Phone: A Story About Using Tech for Good

Amanda has just earned her bachelor’s degree in Marriage and Family Studies at Brigham Young University – Idaho. She is a mother to three children and married to a loving husband of 12 years. She loves to take long walks on the beach with her family during the summer and cuddle up for an old classic movie in the winter. 


Cagle, C., Bergman, M. (n.d.). 3 tips for replacing phone time with family time, EducateEmpowerKids. Retrieved from (2018). Social media and teens: The ultimate guide to keeping kids safe online. Retrieved from:

social media and teens: the ultimate guide from Educate and Empower Kids

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