Originally Published on WorldofMoms: http://www.worldofmoms.com/blog/get-away-from-that-screen/576/2

The impact of technological overdose on children has been discussed many times over. But the critical message we are sending out to them, is on the need to settle for passive, uninvolved activity. Children who are inherently curious, active and creative are compelled and encouraged to indulge in this technological trance.

If you are an adult who sees these patterns and wants to engage in productive and conversational leisure activities, crafting with your child could be a good way to begin this movement away from the screen. Crafting is unique with it’s the ability to involve many different areas of the brain. Craft activities can work on – memory and attention span as they involve visio-spatial processing, creative thinking and problem-solving abilities.

Scientists are beginning to study leisure activities’ impact on the brain. Playing games, reading books and crafting could reduce your chances of developing mild cognitive impairment by 30% to 50%, according to a 2011 study published in The Journal of Neuropsychiatry.

The hypothesis is that, the more stimulating your environment is, the more you are increasing the complexity of the brain.

Crafting & Development

Eric Erickson, in Childhood and Society, wrote that the developmental goals of school-age children fall into four main categories: cognitive, emotional, social, and sensory-motor. In order to become healthy, happy, and productive teenagers, and later healthy, happy, and productive adults, children from five to 12 years old must have lots of experiences and repeated practice with tasks in each of these four areas. Arts and crafts help children experience and practice their skills in all four of these areas.

Arts and Crafts Develop Thinking Skills 
(Cognitive Development)

  • Problem solving skills are exercised in experimenting with art supplies and observing cause and effect.
  • Decision making is constant and continuous in assembling and decorating art and craft projects.
  • Spatial relations and visual thinking skills are engaged and strengthened.

Arts and Crafts Develop Feeling Skills (Emotional Development)

  • Open-ended art helps children communicate their real feelings and potentially have others understand them better.
  • Art materials provide sensory stimulation that can be fun, pleasurable and satisfactory.
  • In the event of a crisis in your community, open-ended art provides an outlet to reduce the stress of a trauma.

Arts and Crafts Develop Relating Skills (Social Development)

  • Art materials are shared in an environment that facilitates social interaction.
  • The non-competitive and cooperative environment of the art center helps children practice social skills.
  • Shy or less verbal children often participate more comfortably with others when involved in art activities.

Arts and Crafts Develop Coordinating Skills (Sensory Motor Development)

  • Fine motor skills are developed using a wide range of materials, craft accessories, and art tools.
  • Eye-hand coordination prepares children for real-life tasks at school and home.
  • Self-esteem is enhanced when a child identifies himself as being coordinated.
Now that you have read though the benefits of crafting, try getting away from the screen; pick up some crayons, scissors and construction paper and let your imagination soar. Ignore the phone while it rings. Craft, converse and colour the world in myriad hues with your child.