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Even while you read this on a mobile device or a laptop, you may be one of the many parents in Singapore who want your kids off theirs. Sure, it’s easy to entertain young children with a CoComelon marathon or stall their tantrums with a Bimi Boo interactive game. But studies have found that prolonged screen time can lead to poor sleep, eye strain, myopia and obesity. So, how do you cut down on screen time in a fun, painless way?

Have a splashing good time at a water park

If your child loves whining about the heat, cool things down with a visit to the many water parks with free entry. Pop by a neighbourhood one like Play@Heights Park Toa Payoh or Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park Adventure Playground. Or choose downtown spots like Children’s Garden at Gardens by the Bay, Splash-N-Surf at Kallang Wave or VivoCity’s rooftop play area. The bonus: at Kallang Wave and VivoCity, you can drop by FairPrice Xtra stores to pick up snacks, goggles and water toys.

Bring the lab home with edutainment science kits

Hone your child’s cognitive and motor skills away from a classroom setting with engaging science kits like the 4M Kidzlabs Volcano Making Kit, which lets you build a 9.5cm-tall “volcano” with plaster and create a lava eruption using vinegar and baking soda. Other fun kits include Galt Space Lab, where kids can construct a telescope and launch a toy rocket.

Volunteer together

One of the most meaningful ways to spend time is by helping others. Opportunities for parent-child volunteerism in Singapore include Meals-on-Wheels by Touch Community Services, which needs volunteers with cars to deliver food to home-bound elderly beneficiaries. Children below 13 can accompany their parents. Also check if your company has staff volunteerism events where your child can join and help.

Last year, the Ministry of Health (MOH) tasked the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health at the National University of Singapore with reviewing evidence on screen use for children under 12. The study found that one-year-olds had an average screen time of two hours daily, and this amount increased with age. The average age that children in Singapore get their first internet-connected device is eight. MOH has since published a guide on screen use for children. Some general tips include:

  • Co-view with children where possible to keep them actively engaged instead of passive viewers.
  • Avoid screen time during meals and one hour before bedtime.
  • Parents can be role models by not using devices during mealtimes or on public transport.

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