Unplug Your Kids with Outside Activities
Reasons To Unplug Your Kids
Twice as many young kids watch videos these days when compared to four years ago and the average amount of time kids spend watching these videos also has doubled, according to survey results released by Common Sense Media in October 2019. The non-profit group reported screen time for video watching has increased to an hour. Take time to unplug from the digital world and connect your kids to the physical one.
Sure. Roll your eyes. One hour is just two “Sponge Bob” episodes. However, watching videos is just one way kids are captivated by their screens. Kids ages 8 – 12 average 4 hours and 44 minutes engaged with phones and monitors while teens average 7 hours and 22 minutes. Nearly 8 hours? This is like a full-day work schedule!
To be fair, schools now assign work that kids complete on an electronic device. This seems legitimate because these devices have become integral to our workplaces. Are these devices, however, required tools for buying a parent a bit of personal time or a few moments of peace? As a parent, it has sometimes been too easy to distract my kids with screen time for a few moments so I can focus on something else. I know from experience; this can be a slippery slope.
Spend some time with the kids outside – without their phones – play tag, capture the flag or setup a scavenger hunt and it won’t be long before the laughter starts to flow. Several recent studies indicate a strong correlation between happiness and time in nature.
Take a minute and imagine you are outside. Breathe in the smell of lilac. Sip a taste of honeysuckle. Let your mind ride the breeze and feel it tickle your neck. Remind yourself of times spent swimming in cool water or zipping through your neighborhood on a bicycle. Think of all the times you have spotted deer, rabbits or squirrels as they forage in the woods, or times you have viewed an eagle soaring above a tree canopy.
Hopefully this mini outing has brought you a moment of happiness. If it did, chances are you were taught to feel happy when you were outside because of connections you made there with a key adult or with your friends. It turns out there are strong links between the level of enjoyment kids experience in nature, their feelings of overall happiness, and an their inclination toward demonstrating human compassion, according to a study done in Mexico with 300 children ages 9 to 12.
Benefits of unplugging
Based on answers to a questionnaire, the study found that children who connected with nature and experienced a sense of joy when outdoors were happier and also were more likely to show kindness and concern for others. They were more likely to behave responsibly toward others and to act in altruistic ways.
Activities in nature encourage the development of teamwork, compassion, courage and problem solving at a much higher level than doing practically anything else. Where else can you feel the rush of excitement and the calming presence of contentment at the same time?
Too many of nature’s gifts are taken for granted. We decide it’s just easier to plug-in to a website instead of unplugging and engaging with the web of life. I guess the questions to ask ourselves are these: “Are our kids lazy? Or is it us?” Our kids may kick and scream. They may complain and pout when we make them step away from the TV or tablet just to watch some Peregrine Falcon fly around. They may not see the point or the purpose in our demands. But we will know we are providing our children a heightened opportunity to live a long, involved and healthy life.
Links to resources:
- Read the full study done by Common Sense Media here.
- 4 Benefits of Spending Time Outdoors with Family
- Why Kids Need to Spend Time in Nature
Christopher Pool – 03/06/2020