The advent of digital technology, such as smartphones and tablets, has certainly simplified modern-day existence. After all, better access makes it simpler than ever to schedule that dinner reservation, keep in touch with friends near and far, and get up-to-the-minute news.
But what is prolonged screen time doing to our youth? One recent study found that 25 percent of children under age 6 has a smartphone. Additionally, researchers have discovered that most parents don’t limit the amount of time their children spend on these devices.
With statistics like these, it’s no surprise that only one in three children are physically active each day. And that brings us to a common conundrum: It’s difficult to discipline our children about spending too much time on indoor activities – such as binge watching, playing on smart devices, or beating that new video game – when the adults are doing the same things.
How Can I Get My Kids to Be More Active?
It’s time for you and your kids to take control of technology and get some fresh air! Playing outside has been shown to improve children’s moods, help them get better sleep, soothe stress, and socialize. Let’s talk about some of the best ways in which to enjoy the great outdoors:
1. Play with a Pet Outside
One way to encourage children to play in nature is by doing activities with their furry friends. Whether you’re taking the dog for a walk, playing fetch, or teaching your dog new tricks in the yard, both your child and your pet will enjoy the time together.
2. Do Homework and Other Activities Outdoors
Changing your child’s surroundings can also change the mood. Try letting your children work on homework, eat, or do other activities outside – during breaks, they may even decide to play actively.
Put money aside for purchasing fun toys and supplies for outdoor play. Instead of that new video game or device, buy them equipment such as a new bike, soccer ball, wiffle ball (and bat), or basketball. It would even be fun to get a portable basketball hoop you can keep in the driveway for a pick-up game together.
3. Teach Them Activities You Loved as a Kid
Conjuring up some tried-and-true ideas for simple, outdoor play could be just the ticket for your family getting more active. Whether you take your kid to the skating rink (either ice skating or roller skating) or teach them how to play baseball or football, you’re bound to spark some nostalgia for yourself and get them excited about playing outside.
4. Help Them Find a Sport
As children grow older, school’s demands become difficult. Show them it’s important to balance academics with creative endeavors – such as music and art – and also with athletics and exercise.
Encourage your child to sign up for a class or a sport they have interest in, and make yourself available to them to attend practices and competitions. Pay attention to what sports they like to watch on TV or on their portable device, or what athletes they admire – and what sport those athletes play – because your child is probably naturally drawn to that sport.
Pediatricians in Massachusetts
Providing comprehensive care from birth through adolescence, Children’s Health Care of Newburyport and Haverhill is a child-centered and family-focused practice. If compassionate care is what you’re seeking, look no further.
For a consultation or to schedule an appointment, contact us by calling (978) 465-7121 or (978) 388-9880 in Newburyport, or (978) 373-6557 in Haverhill. We look forward to helping you and your family live a happy, healthy lifestyle together.