*This is a guest post
It’s no secret that our childhoods were very different from those of our kids. For the most part, we didn’t have an abundance of technology available like our sons and daughters do today. Yes, we survived with questionable cell service, wonky dial up Internet connections, and even basic gaming consoles without streaming or online play. And, we can’t forget the pain of trying to do homework without the help of Google or YouTube.
Today, our children are digital natives and can’t even remember a time before the Internet or smartphones. According to the BBC, our children are spending an average of six hours in front of a device everyday and only 4 hours outside each week. For a parent, those are some pretty shocking numbers. This data makes it essential that we take a step back and examine the role technology is playing in our kids’ formative years. After all, our highly connected kids are missing out on the wonders of being outdoors and with nature.
The Problem With Too Much Technology
We all know that technology has revolutionized our communication and interactions. While a majority of these interactions are wonderful, we are starting to notice a few drawbacks when it comes to our children and technology. Please scroll through the following dangers associated with technology:
- Anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem are regularly suffered by people who overuse social media.
- Joint and neck pain has been documented due to poor posture and ergonomics associated with technology use.
- The fast-paced stimuli provided by technology has been shown to alter brain development inside the prefrontal cortex which is believed to increase the probability of becoming addicted to the stimulus social media and technology
- Extended exposure to glowing screens and notifications from our devices can disrupt sleep patterns.
- Too much time time using technology can limit face-to-face interactions which can interfere with a child’s speech, ability to bond, and the development of interpersonal communication skills.
Why Outdoors Activities are Essential for Kids
Technology does have a time and place, but we can’t overlook the benefits nature provides that children are missing during the hours they are plugged in daily. After all, a child might spend almost 2,200 hours each year swiping and tapping a digital screen. That leaves little time to play outside, breathe fresh air, and enjoy the world around them.
The following list is a sampling of how nature can benefit a child’s emotional and physical well-being:
- Outdoor activities allow children to develop skills that involve observation and creativity. In turn, this leads to higher levels of learning readiness and improved scores in school.
- Being outside boosts immune systems from exposure to germs and bacteria found in dirt and by receiving a healthy dose of Vitamin D from sunshine.
- Research has found green spaces reduce ADHD
- Gardening and being surrounded by nature can help kids reduce stress.
- Exposure to natural light helps regulate biorhythms which helps children create healthy sleep schedules.
- Physical activity can decrease the likelihood a boy or girl will develop obesity, hypertension, or heart disease later down the road.
Tips to Disconnect Technology and Connect with Nature
Our sons and daughters might be using technology at elevated rates, but we don’t have to resign our kids to an inactive lifestyle. In an effort to counteract the negative side of technology, we need to challenge ourselves to maintain a healthy balance with nature in our homes. This makes it vital we provide plenty of opportunities for kids to head back outdoors.
To help our children embrace essential outdoor activities, read through the following tips:
- Reward kids with technology time based on every hour spent outside.
- Make it a family affair and head outside together. Try to do this for one hour daily and start a game of catch, garden, or take a walk together.
- Designate technology-free zones at home. Try to limit technology use in bedrooms and during family meals.
- Implement a technology “curfew” each night where everyone powers down for the evening at a set time.
- Look for free or low-cost events that are hosted at local parks or communities.
What suggestions can you share to get kids to power down and head outside? Do leave a comment and share.
Author Bio: Cassie Brewer is a health professional. In her free time, she enjoys writing about her passion (healthy living of course!) and everything beauty related. Nothing makes her happier than helping other be the best version of themselves they can be. You can read more at cassiebrewer.weebly.com and follow her on twitter @Cassiembrewer.