Children are spending more time indoors than ever before. In fact, they are spending half the time playing outside than their parents did, and if we as a society are not careful, this will only worsen with future generations.
The reason for this change is multifaceted, but a large part of the blame can go towards the increased use of smart devices and the internet. Most children have access to a phone or iPad and can easily while away the hours sending memes to their friends and playing mind-numbing online games. And this is having serious effects on their minds and bodies. Too much time using technology has been proven to lead to impaired memory, concentration, and academic performance. If unchecked, it can also lead to mental health concerns like low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. It’s also taking a serious physical toll, with increasingly sedentary lifestyles creating an epidemic of obesity in schools as well as the rise of issues like poor posture and “text neck” from constantly looking down at phone screens.
It’s clear that children, not to mention most adults, need to spend less time on their phones and more time outdoors. Nature has overwhelmingly positive effects on one’s mental health, boosting happiness, positivity, and self-esteem. It also provides ample opportunity for exercising, whether in the form of walking, running, cycling, or any other kind of activity.
But when a child is used to sitting in front of the TV all day, how do you encourage them to get outside? You don’t want to force them into it; they should get outdoors because they want to. If you’re stuck for ideas, here are four ways to get your kids to spend more time outside.
Limit their technology use
Even if your child needs a phone for safety or a laptop for work, they shouldn’t be spending all their free time on their devices. Set boundaries within your home, such as no phones at the dinner table, and tech-free time in the hours before bed.
Plan outdoorsy holidays
Holidays are always an exciting experience, no matter what you do or where you go. Make an effort to fill your vacations with plenty of outdoor activities such as hiking or riding bikes. Or pack a lunch and some kids drink bottles full of water and spend a day exploring a foreign destination.
Make it fun
The best way to get your child to love the outdoors is to make it seem more fun than their devices. Fill the garden with outdoor toys and games like footballs, water pistols, and bikes, and they’ll be less likely to pick up their phone next time they’re bored.
Set a good example
Children look up to their parents, so if you’re spending every evening scrolling through Twitter in front of the TV, then they will fail to see their tech addiction as a bad thing. Limit your own technology use in front of your children and spend more time outdoors yourself. Take up a hobby such as walking, running, or a team sport.
Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.