The Need for Recreation

I believe there’s an appropriate place in our lives for recreation. One dictionary gives the following definition for recreation, “The refreshment of the mind and body after work, especially by engaging in enjoyable activities… an activity that a person takes part in for pleasure or relaxation rather than work.”

I love the Webster’s 1828 dictionary which says, “Refreshment of the strength and spirits after toil; amusement; diversion. Or… relief from toil or pain; amusement in sorrow or distress.” There’s a need for re-creation of strength and spirits after a time of toil, or a diversion from sorrow or distress.


But today, many young people and some adults avoid toil in order to amuse themselves through screen time. That’s a distortion of this important subject of recreation. When recreation undermines hard work, and facing real difficulties in life, it is no longer recreation in its proper sense, it is deconstruction, or demolition of a balanced life, a whole life, a purposeful life.


True recreation has a beneficial purpose in your individual life and in your family’s life. Let’s consider some alternate forms of recreation to the default of more screen time. Let me warn you that many ideas will cost you more time, energy, and possibly money.

Let’s ease into this by pointing you to board games. A board game is interactive. It can foster conversation while playing the game. They are not usually addictive, but they do require more energy. I confess that there are times I would rather not play a board game because of the investment of undistracted time, and depending on the game, it may cost me some mental energy as well.

Plus, the games my kids want to play are not always the games I would prefer to play and vice versa. I’m probably not alone in this, and I suppose that many parents, like me, would rather take the path of least resistance and veg out in front of a screen with the kids or let them veg out in front of a screen.


Let me give you another alternative that we did for several years. We learned how to build remote controlled airplanes from scratch using Dollar Tree foam board, hot glue, BBQ skewers, and some electronic bits and pieces that we purchased online and from a local hobby store. To learn how to make RC airplanes visit

Learning to fly these planes was a completely different story. It was a good thing we knew how to build these planes because we had to keep rebuilding them when they crashed. Here’s a lesson in reality, when our plane took a nosedive and crumpled on the ground, we could not just hit a reset button and immediately start over like you can with a video game.

This is a great illustration for recreation because we literally re-created our RC planes more than we flew them. We did get better over time at keeping them up in the air but it is certainly not a hobby for the faint of heart.


My children all tend toward the creative side of the brain, so I have continually encouraged them to pursue other types of artistic expression. Painting, drawing, creative lettering, dance, and karate are some of the activities my kids have been involved with.

You and your family have a unique DNA with unique gifts, unique quirks, unique limitations, as well as unique opportunities. Don’t waste your limited time together as a family, be purposeful and buy as much time back that you can.


The short-term convenience of screen time as a default may have long-term negative effects and consequences. Don’t let digital media short-circuit more purposeful activities that can result in a better payoff in the long run. There are likely a thousand other ideas that you could consider as alternatives to screen time. I’ll let you do your own thinking on this to discover what works best for your family.