Call it a generational gap but kids today don’t spend as much time outdoors as their parents used to. The Independent reported that they get exposed to screens twice as much as they get quality outdoors time. On average, kids get four hours of screen time everyday, much of which is unsupervised. As it turns out, parents use screen time to entertain children while they finish their own tasks. What’s even worse is that six out of ten parents who use screens as a distraction admit to knowing that it can have a negative effect on their children’s health.
It’s up to the parents to notice these habits and change them early on. Kids are very impressionable. If the parents in their lives spend many hours in front of their own computers, they will think it’s normal — healthy, even. What you can do as a parent is to replace some of their screen time with a healthier habit. One that comes to mind is spending more time outdoors. It can benefit the entire family through these ways:
Going for a hike, taking your children to the playground, or running around your own garden is a lot better for your health than sitting in front of the telly all day. As a busy mum or dad you probably don’t get a lot of time to work out and bringing your children outside is one way to sneak in some exercise! It requires cardiovascular strength to run after small children!
Of course, it’s good for kids to stay physically active too. Being exposed to the sun also boosts production of Vitamin D, a crucial nutrient for building strong muscles and bones. Sunlight is also known to regulate the circadian rhythm, or that internal clock that lets one know it’s time to sleep. It’s a perfect addition to our ‘Fun and Creative Ways to End Bedtime Battles’ post which highlights tips on how to tuck in kids at night! Plus, exhausted parents can get much-needed quality sleep too.
Children who spend time outdoors are also a lot happier, according to a study by the Aarhus University in Denmark. Researchers found that kids who play more outside grow up less likely to develop various psychiatric disorders. Indeed, there is something deeply calming and enjoyable about fresh air and the smell of trees. Maybe it’s the act of learning how to relax that teaches kids to adapt even the most stressful conditions. Never underestimate the power of nature to heal and make you happy!
Discover a world beyond screens
A lot of the content in our screens is just mimicking life beyond it — so why not expose your kids to the real thing? You can discover the wonders of the world as a family in nature!
Even if your kids are unable to walk or explore on their own, you can still make outdoor walks a part of your routine as a family. If you’re going around with more than one child, use a double pushchair if possible as this will keep them better protected and allow them to sleep if needed. The double pushchairs on iCandy show how most models are designed to accommodate children of different ages, with parents able to choose if they want their children lying flat (ideal for younger children) or seated. The design and build of tandem pushchairs also make them easy to move around and very convenient for your small family. Being in a pushchair will give infants and toddlers quality time outdoors, which they need to stay stimulated from the various sounds, sights, and smells outside the home.
There are also a lot of fun activities you can do outside with school-aged children. Family races, ball games, and tug of war are a few of the classics you might enjoy. But if you want to bring screens into the mix, which might make spending time outdoors more interesting, try geocaching. Using the GPS on a mobile device, geocaching is a more high-tech version of classic treasure hunting. It can also be very educational because it teaches kids how to read maps and put their tech-savviness to good use.
By spending time outdoors, parents and their children can boost their physical and mental health, and learn a thing or two. More importantly, it’s a good way to bond and strengthen your relationship as a family.