Advancements in technology during the past decade have children spending more time with gadgets and gizmos, and less time enjoying the great outdoors. In fact, kids are now indoors up to 10 hours a day, according to the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, an education research lab.
But kids’ increasing use of technology and opportunities to appreciate Mother Nature can coexist.
The importance of outside play
A new National Wildlife Federation report shows that kids’ media habits can both positively and negatively impact health and provides real-world advice to help parents serve as positive role models and teach technology in moderation.
“Kids need to be outside all year long, especially in the winter when days are short and we’re all a little more cooped up than usual,” said Maureen Smith, of the National Wildlife Federation.
“In addition to developing a deeper appreciation for the outdoors and the wildlife around them no matter where they live,” she said, “it helps them burn off energy, stay fit, and be mentally focused for school, homework and all activities in their busy day.”
Screen time plus green time
Technology can be a valuable tool to help families balance the lure of screen time with the importance of green time for kids.
The National Wildlife Federation’s report offers families these ideas:
– Rely on technology to plan or inspire outdoor adventures. This can include anything from finding nearby hiking trails you can explore together, to interactive, outdoor treasure hunts.
– Keep a record of your outdoor experiences as a family with the help of electronic photos, videos or an electronic journal. Kids will love the ability to share their experiences with others.
– Take hand-held devices outdoors to combine the best of both worlds.
– Use tools such as Ubooly, an app-based learning toy. It can turn a walk in the park into an interactive experience with activities such as scavenger hunts, nature hikes, mindfulness games and plenty of exercise.