Thanks to Delaney Ruston, MD, Screenagers‘ Filmmaker, for this list of non-tech holiday gifts…I love following Delaney’s blog posts, and think that her continuing the dialogue about the effects of screens on teens (and us) is an important one. Enjoy! – AKS
It’s that time of year again, food, friends, family, gifts (and hopefully not too much stress). Tech takes up so much of our attention all year long; I find the holidays are a great time to slow down and enjoy some non-tech family fun. I’ve put together a list of some engaging, non-tech toys for your Screenagers.
Be it the latest from young adult literature favorite John Greene or silly explorations like The Big Bento Box of Useless Japanese Inventions, books should be on everyone’s list. My 16 year old just finished The Hate You Give, and she told all her friends the next day about how amazing and powerful it was (it did make her cry three times). Now she has a list of friends wanting to borrow the book from her.
I also think a pop-up book makes a fantastic gift—the engineering that goes into making each unique page blows my mind. One that is near and dear to my heart is the French story, The Little Prince. My dad would read it to me—and now it is available as an incredible pop-up book.
Stargazing will take on a whole new meaning if the stars you are looking at have a personal connection. At Star Registry, you can give the constellations personalized names. You will receive a certificate the name of your star, the location, and coordinates. Perfect for your budding astronomer.
An alternative to spacing out on screens is spacing out with pen and paper. Coloring books were big last year and continue to be today. Spirograph, also big when I was a kid, is back on toy store shelves. Creating the circular shapes is very meditative.
Kimochis, which means “feelings” in Japanese, are a collection of stuffed animals designed to help kids understand their varying feelings. Similar to the Mr. Men and Little Miss books of my childhood, Kimochis have several characters (moody Cloud, confident Cat and sensitive Bella Rose) that kids will identify with. Don’t rule out older kids for this gift. While it may be perfect for younger kids, I know quite a few middle and high schoolers who love the cuddly characters.
Root-Vue Farm is something you and your kids can continue to enjoy long past the holidays. The see-through acrylic garden shows the life cycle of several vegetables from seed to root to plant.
You are never too old for jigsaw puzzles. They are an excellent family activity, especially if you are putting together something that can be framed. The “I AM” collection from Madd Capp Puzzle is fantastic. The photo-realistic animal heads are challenging to put together but wonderful to look at when completed.
Know a kid or teen who gets stomach aches, cramps? I love these hot water bottles. (This is a set of 2, but you can buy just one). I just used the grey one last night going to bed—and it was so comforting. I also love that these can help with saving energy—I have the heat low in the house, and then I put the hot water bottle put in my bed, and when I finally hit the mattress it’s nice and warm.
When my son was 11 I got him a cookbook called Get Cooking, authored by a teen from England named Sam Stern. Even though we keep moving every two years I have made sure to keep this book. I highly recommend getting a cookbook for any males in your life—I bet they will be motivated to try something in it! Sam Stern wrote his first cookbook when he was 14.