We can still hear our mother's words ringing in our ears as she said, "Turn off the TV and go play outside." Back in our day, screen time was limited to what cartoons could be found on a handful of television stations. Pulling ourselves away from the TV to head outdoors was not easy, but it's nothing compared to the lives our children lead today.
On-demand television gives kids around the clock programming for every age group. No longer limited by the living room TV set, children have handheld tablets and even smartphones which allow them to stream content at home and while out and about. Video games are as popular as ever and marketed to younger and younger children. While not inherently bad and often educational, there are benefits to limiting screen time.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has given recommendations to "help families maintain a healthy media diet." These recommendations include:
What are the dangers of too much screen time? According to the Mayo Clinic, too much or poor quality media intake can lead to problems such as obesity, inadequate and poor quality sleep, behavioral problems, loss of social skills and less opportunities for playtime.
So parents, you must determine how much screen time is too much screen time and then devise a plan to keep your kids entertained and active while off-screen.
Omega Sports is committed to getting your kids active. Visit any Omega Sports store the 4th of every month this summer to trade-in a video game in exchange for same day instant savings. This is a great opportunity to foster the existing love of a sport your child plays, or to introduce them to a new one. How can you encourage your kids to get up off that couch and moving?
Children's imaginations can run free with very little stimulus. Having a safe environment outdoors can give them time to roam free and create new adventures. Determine what your child's interest are and incorporate these into your backyard space. If you have a large yard and adolescents, why not invest in a basketball hoop, set up a soccer goal post or even a volleyball net.
If low on funds, your kids can use their creativity and try out some of these DIY Backyard Games like bowling with recycled bottles or water balloon baseball. Creating an obstacle course or having sack races will also get out pent up energy and keep those little bodies healthy and fit.
Just because you live in an apartment or have very limited outdoor space doesn't mean you can't have fun outdoors. Old school ideas such as sidewalk chalk, blowing bubbles, hopscotch or jump ropes were the mainstays of play for kids living in the cities.
Find out from your kids what activities they would like to participate in. You could have them write down a top ten list of activities both indoors and outdoors that they would like to do and then make an effort to accomplish some if not all of them. If they are having difficulty imagining potential activities, you could give them ideas such as:
No matter how many ideas you or your kids may have for outdoor fun away from the screen, your kids will enjoy this time much more if you are supervising and even an active participant. Both children and parent alike can be healthy and active, running, playing and competing.