Think back to when you were a kid. What did your childhood look like? Were you outside playing with friends and exploring the neighborhood? Or were you in front of the television or video games all day?
Or better yet, imagine what your parents’ childhood was like. Most of their day was spent outside, whether that was playing, completing outdoor chores, or both. They were outdoors, active, and usually getting into mischief.
Let’s compare that to kids of today:
- Kids spend an entire day (24 hours+) on devices each week.
- Kids spend less than an hour each week playing outside.
- Prisoners spend more time outside than our children.
- 1 in 4 kids think that video games are a form of exercise
- 6 in 10 kids are sleep deprived, largely because of devices.
- Half of kids have their own tablet or phone by the age of 8.
As kids are spending more time indoors and on media devices, they’re also beginning to experience more health issues.
- 1 in 3 children are overweight and 1 in 5 are obese.
- 1 in 5 children has mental health issues and that number is growing.
- 27% of children suffer from a chronic health condition.
- From 2005-2014, depression rates among teens increased by 37%.
- Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for adolescents.
- 1 in 8 children suffer from an anxiety disorder.
Are you intrigued about getting your kid outdoors more but not sure where to start? Click hereto get the planning workbook! It will help you set up a consistent schedule for outdoor activities and track your child’s progress as you explore nature.
Join our Facebook group to get more ideas for getting your kids outside and engaged with nature! This is a great place for asking questions for finding support!
With less time spent outdoors and more time on screens, our kids’ health looks vastly different than it did one and two generations ago.
So what do we do about it?
Here are 3 easy strategies that you can start incorporating TODAY that will help your children grow to be happy and healthy:
- Set limits on devices. As parents, we absolutely have to set limits on devices and screen time. Research shows that kids who have limits consumer 2 hours less of digital media than those without. Here are a few examples of limits that parents use: no devices in their bedrooms, no TV during dinner, even if the kids have their own devices then need to ask permission to use them, overall screen time limits each day, and turn off the TV when no one is watching it.
- One hour of physical activity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics, children need at least an hour of physical activity every day.
- One hour of outdoor time. Giving your kids unstructured outdoor time everyday is necessary for for their health. Research shows that being outside can increase brain development, improve social behaviors, decrease impulsivity and hyperactivity, decrease the risk for obesity and nearsightedness, and decrease blood pressure and stress hormones like cortisol. The recommendation is an hour but if that seems overwhelming, start with 30 minutes or even 10 minutes and work your way up from there. Here’s the great thing about outdoor time – it’s usually active. That means you don’t have to set aside 2 hours every day for physical activity AND outdoor time – you can get them both while playing outside with your kids. Or, if you’re a free range parent, by letting them play outside by themselves or with the neighbors’ kids.
Here’s the thing…kids lives are so much different today. Communities no longer see children playing in their yards, kids spend the majority of their non-school time on screens, and they are becoming more and more unhealthy – both physically and mentally.
But as parents, we have the power to change that. We can set limits for our kids and encourage them to be outdoors using fun activities that encourage physical activity, problem solving, and creativity. If you’d like to get ideas on how to encourage more outdoor time with your kids, join us in the Facebook group, Nature Challenge! Or, download the Planning Workbook to help you set aside specific times during the week to get outside!
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References for facts:
- Every week, our kids spend one day – an entire 24 hours – on screens (Generation M: Media in the Lives of 8-18 Year-Olds, 2010).
- Every week, kids spend an hour playing outside – only 7 minutes per day. (Generation M: Media in the Lives of 8-18 Year-Olds, 2010).
- Prisoners spend more time outside than our children (interview with prisons)
- One in four British kids feel that video games are a form of exercise (Youth Sport Trust Class of 2035 Report).
- Six in ten kids are sleep deprived due to lack of bed times and limits on screen time (Junior Fine Bedding Company Survey
- Worldwide, 1 in 3 kids spend less than 30 minutes playing outside every day (survey sponsored by Unilever)
- Half of kids have their own tablet or phone by the age of 8 (The Common Sense Consensus: Media use by kids age 0 to 8. Common Sense Media. )
- 1 in 3 children are overweight and 1 in 5 are obese
- 1 in 5 children has mental health issues and that number is growing (Centers for Disease Control)
- 27% of children suffer from a chronic health condition (Anderson, G. “Chronic Care: Making the Case for Ongoing Care.” Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 7 March 2010. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 11 Jan. 2016. <http://www.rwjf.org/content/dam/farm/reports/reports/2010/rwjf54583>.)
- From 2005-2014, depression rates among teens increased by 37% (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health)
- Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for adolescents (Centers for Disease Control)
- 1 in 8 children suffer from an anxiety disorder (Anxiety and Depression Association of America)
- Strategies that mitigate media usage: Rideout, V., et al. (2010). Generation M: Media in the Lives of 8-18 year-olds. The Henry J Kaiser Family Foundation.
- Don’t allow devices in children’s bedrooms. On average, kids consume 2 hours less of digital media if they don’t have complete control over their devices. They also read more with limits on screen time . (Generation M: Media in the Lives of 8-18 Year-Olds, 2010).
- Even if kids have their own devices, they should ask permission to use them. This goes along with the idea that kids should not have devices in their room, and therefore, they will not have access to them anytime they please. This type of rule decreases media consumption by 2 hours per day. (Generation M: Media in the Lives of 8-18 Year-Olds, 2010).
- No media during meals. This type of rule decreases media consumption by 2 hours per day. (Generation M: Media in the Lives of 8-18 Year-Olds, 2010).
- Don’t leave the TV running when no one is watching. Again, this will lead to 2 fewer hours of media consumption per day. (Generation M: Media in the Lives of 8-18 Year-Olds, 2010).