“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood”
You know what would be better for you then reading this? Getting outside and soaking in some Vitamin D or if the sun isn’t out, at least getting some fresh air in those lungs. Today we are looking at screen time. How much time do kids spend on screens? What effect is it having on them? What about on their brain? And most importantly, a few tips on getting kids outside.
First, let’s dig into some stats. In North America, the average child is spending 3 hours watching TV and another 2-4 hours on other mobile devices. That is a whopping 5-7 hours engrossed by screens. On the other side of the equation, only 7% of 5-11 year olds in Canada are meeting the recommended 1 hour of physical activity (2013). It’s no surprise that 70% of parents say their kids are sedentary after school.
So, what is all this sitting around doing to those fresh young minds and bodies?
It turns out, like the words of Mr. Fred Rogers above, outdoor play is serious business and that not enough unstructured time outdoors leads to a decline in mental and physical health along with poor sleep quality. To bring in a buzz word, it may even make your child more narcissistic.
In her book, The Nature Fix, Florence Williams extols the restorative effects of time spent in nature. She writes “We don’t experience natural environments enough to realize how restored they can make us feel, nor are we aware that studies also show they make us healthier, more creative, more empathetic and more apt to engage with the world and with each other. Nature, it turns out, is good for civilization.”
So, on that note, here are some tips to help foster a playful, nature loving kid:
- Try to limit kids to less than 2 hours of sedentary time (sitting, lying down while watching TV, playing video games or using a mobile device or computer)
- After school and after dinner are great times to give your children time to engage in unstructured outdoor play.
- Get outside and take a walk. By modelling an active lifestyle, parents are encouraging their children to be active too. A child’s activity levels are in direct relation to the activity levels of their parents.
- Talk to you kids about how important it is to be active.