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Screens vs. Playgrounds: Who is Winning the Battle

Posted on: Wednesday, April 20, 2016 by

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Unlike other generations, today’s kids have never been around in a time without technology. This means that kids today have grown up surrounded by mobile phones, tablets and computers, and have become accustomed to using them in their daily lives for both school and play. Although technology does have many benefits, it also has its negatives. Increased screen time in children has been linked to higher BMIs and obesity rates, as well as a poor diet and a limited amount of time spent playing outdoors.

Screens vs Playgrounds Who is Winning the Battle

Screen Time Statistics

It is estimated that today’s kids are getting about 7 hours a day of screen time with their technological devices. By the time they become teenagers, this number can go as high as 13 hours per day! To put these numbers in perspective, it is recommended that kids get no more than 2 hours a day of screen time, so the average child is getting way more than they should.

This screen time is starting at a very young age, with 29% of babies under the age of 1 watching around 90 minutes of screen time a day. By a child’s second birthday, about 64% are watching over two hours of TV a day!

It is estimated that today’s kids are getting about 7 hours a day of screen time with their technological devices.

Playground Time Statistics

So, how does kids’ playground time compare to their screen time? A survey done in 2014 showed that over 25% of parents said their children spend less than 30 minutes per week outside. The reason? According to this study, 60% of parents said there was simply more for their children to do indoors, such as watching TV or playing computer games. Many of these parents say they rely on schools to give kids their time outdoors, however this could be a major issue since 30% of kids get less than 15 minutes a day of recess.

What are kids missing out on?

When kids don’t get enough playground time, they’re missing out on a ton of benefits. Not only does playground time help with physical fitness in children, but it also increases flexibility and motor skills. But the benefits aren’t all physical! When kids play outdoors with toys that pose a challenge, such as balancing on a skateboard or riding a bike, they build self-confidence from mastering these new skills. Playing outdoors affects brain development, too! Numerous studies have shown that kids who play outdoors also have more active imaginations, become better problem-solvers and are more creative.

When kids play outdoors with toys that pose a challenge, such as balancing on a skateboard or riding a bike, they build self-confidence from mastering these new skills.

What can you do?

Many parents think that the best way to get kids off of their mobile phones, iPads or computers is to take these devices away, however that’s not always the case. Remember, although it can be frustrating to see kids glued to their mobile phones, these devices keep you in contact with kids while they’re out, and you don’t want to lose that connection. Instead of completely taking away the phone, try monitoring their usage instead. There are dozens of apps designed to allow parents to monitor their child’s phone usage, so take advantage of them! This will help you get a better understanding of what exactly your kids are doing on their devices, so you know how to approach the situation better. If kids are texting with friends, encourage them to invite their friends over to play outside instead of just talking on the phone. Are your kids mindlessly surfing the web? Restrict the amount of time they can spend on their devices.

Another way to reverse these statistics is to do your part to make the outdoors seem more appealing to kids. Does your kid love animals? Grab a pair of binoculars and head outside to go on a bird watching excursion right in your backyard. If your kids are active, sports fanatics, invest in a basketball hoop or football to entice them to get outdoors and play. No child will be able to resist the appeal of a trampoline, scooter or ride-on toy, so these are always safe choices to get kids moving outdoors.

Another way to reverse these statistics is to do your part to make the outdoors seem more appealing to kids.

No matter the method you choose, remember any activity is good for kids! Try encouraging kids to get outdoors for ten minutes a day. Once they get into the habit of doing it and start to have fun, you won’t have to nag them anymore!

By Hilary Smith

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