Why Parents Should Understand the Need for Kids to Be Outdoors

kids running outside

Are we seeing a subtle version of The Rise of the Machine, with kids ages eight to ten, glued for about six hours per day on devices, like mobile phones, tablets, TV, and computers?

Well, maybe not, but kids today are not spending enough time on the flying fox playground. If you’re a parent and just shrugging off this disconnect by kids to the outdoors, the following discussion might open your eyes to why you need to let your kid spend more time outdoors:

Negative Effects

According to one study, 56% of kids ages 10 to 13 own smartphones. It’s relatively easy to be entertained inside the comforts of their bedroom, with a mobile device on hand. So why go outside? They can play games, watch movies or do video a chat with a friend.

Child development experts have warned about the adverse effects of overexposure to gadgets, which include cognitive delays, attention disorder, risk of obesity, and radiation exposure.

The Importance of Being Outside

The good news is that experts also say that it’s not a lost cause. Parents must first overcome their anxiety about the dangers of allowing their kids outside. Granted that there are indeed dangers, it’s something that could be circumvented. For example, parents could always accompany their kids in parks or other outdoor spaces.

Yes, children’s behavior needs to change, but parenting mindset must also shift to give kids more confidence to stay outside. Parents should adjust their schedules, for example, to spend time with their kids in the outdoors. Then parents must regain their understanding of the benefits of exposing kids in the outdoors.

  • Time outdoors, which typically involves physical activities, improves a child’s physical fitness and positively impacts school performance.
  • Nature heals and helps eliminate stress. Hugging trees, touching flowers, or playing on the sand is a slower and soothing experience compared to the frantic visuals on TV or mobile device screens.
  • Exposure to sunlight triggers Vitamin D in the skin, which helps build stronger bones and fights the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

blurred photo of a children's playground

Bringing Them Outside

You’ve regained your perspective. Now, you need to execute a plan on how to wean them away from gadgets and take them outside.

  1. Set a schedule on gadget usage. They can’t be left to their own devices! Limit the number of hours or days by which they are facing their tablet or mobile device. You’re still the sheriff of the house, confiscate items if need be.
  2. Recess time is important. Find out from your child’s school if there’s sufficient time being spent outside during recess. According to a study, 15% of children in the third grade have less than 15 minutes of recess per day. You might consider raising this to your next PTA meeting.
  3. Make a list of outside activities and do them. It’s about managing your child’s free time and also yours. Make a list of outdoor activities and create a plan. Find a reasonable schedule for going to the park, taking a walk, flying kites, or throwing water balloons. Make it fun for you and the kids.

So remember, it starts from changing your mindset, setting rules for your kids, and then planning and executing on those plans to be outside. Are you ready to go to the park next Sunday?

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