Raising Kids in a Digital Age
We are all fully aware
that we live in a digital age with a multitude of distracting, blinking and
tempting techy mediums for adults and kids alike. Some of us find ourselves,
without even realizing it in certain cases, spending more and more time in front
of a computer screen, phone, video game console or tablet. And, some of us are
on these devices for hours at a time without giving ourselves a break. There is
a new study out that says sitting at a desk for prolonged periods of time is as
bad as smoking cigarettes. That’s a terrifying statistic. And one that we need
to pay attention to for ourselves and for our kids’ sake.
“Our natural surroundings are indeed just
that...NATURE and being outside among the
trees and mountains and rivers and mud
and dirt and all kinds of other awesome
and fun outdoor stuff!”
How do we keep the next generation from falling into this digital trap? Encourage outdoor play! It’s a positive and effective way to combat negative screen time habits. A study done in the early 80s by Edward O. Wilson, a Harvard University Biologist, concluded that humans are instinctively drawn to their natural surroundings. Our natural surroundings are indeed just that...NATURE and being outside among the trees and mountains and rivers and mud and dirt and all kinds of other awesome and fun outdoor stuff! Being outside doesn’t mean you have to pack up and take a camping trip. Step outside your door, go for a walk or a bike ride. Find a cool park or ride through the mountains along some of the amazing trails that are already set up for you to adventure through. Of course, bring the family and watch them come alive in nature!
For something even simpler, just get some of the neighborhood kids together and put a huge game of tag together. Give the kids a cheap camera and have them go on a bug hunt, finding bugs, birds, and spiders they can take photos of. Play in the sprinkler. Go on a hike. Head to your neighborhood park and swing on the swings. During the cooler months, document the changing leaves, take a walk and check out neighborhood Halloween decorations together, head to the ski hill, snowshoe, have a snowball fight, build a snowman together. The options are limitless!
“As with everything, there is a balance. Some
screen time is perfectly fine in most cases. But,
limiting screen time is so important.”
Indoor play is important, too! Arts and crafts, playing hide and seek, baking and cooking dinner together are great ways to ‘play’ together as a family. Believe it or not, little ones LOVE to dust and vacuum. You can find kid sized brooms and dustpans at dollar and discount stores. Mopping for kids is a blast! And it goes without saying it’s a win win for mom and dad, right there!
As with everything, there is a balance. Some screen time is perfectly fine in most cases. But, limiting screen time is so important. Come up with a schedule if you need to so that it’s right in front of everyone...no questions asked. And then just stick to that schedule each day, making sure not to make exceptions unless its necessary for school, etc.
And keep on encouraging play of all kinds. When your kids say they’re bored, that’s not a bad thing! Let them be bored! Let them come up with ways to fill their day in creative and positive ways. Give them a piece of paper and challenge them to make something creative without using tape or scissors (paper airplanes are a blast).
The bottom line is this - Play helps kids develop important skills they’ll use throughout their lives. Taking turns, being a leader, following directions, being active, staying healthy, communication, teamwork. It’s imperative that we do everything we can to create opportunities where our kids are able to grow and thrive and play helps them do just that.