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Get your kids off screens and outside now!

The Dangers of Screen Time for Children

Did you know that the average American child spends between four and nine hours per day glued to a screen? This excessive screen time is having a negative impact on our children’s development and shaping our culture in a way that is not towards virtue. Public schools across the country are also contributing to this problem.

As adults, we often use screens as a babysitter or to pacify a child who is throwing a tantrum. However, this teaches children to handle their emotions in an unhealthy way and does not promote self-control, an essential skill taught in childhood. The damaging effects of excessive screen time are infinite, including exposure to adult content, advertising, and misleading information.

The Importance of Outdoor Time

It’s time to rethink our approach to childhood and prioritize outdoor time. Children who spend time outdoors have the opportunity to think freely, run, skip, climb, and develop a relationship with the natural world that can be taken with them into adulthood. An introduction to the natural world early in life pulls the child outside of themselves and shows them worlds upon worlds that will take a lifetime to know and explore.

Once outside, a child can run and jump, climb and dig, and move their body through space by testing their full range of motion, speed, and strength. These activities can’t be done indoors. Children given the gift of movement will develop an understanding of how things work. This knowledge can’t be found in a textbook or taught in a science lab. Time for experimentation and free play offers the child the gift of a relationship with the natural world.

Creating an Outdoor Lifestyle

It’s important to make outdoor time a regular part of a child’s life. Here are some ideas to inspire you to lead the children in your life outdoors regularly:

  • Meals outside: Taking a picnic in the backyard or using the patio furniture as a rule when the weather is fair gets the whole family outside regularly.
  • Parents and children outdoors together: Don’t just send children outside. Go with them. Find a way to bring your work outside by using paper, a pencil, or a book instead of occupying yourself with a screen while children play. Or better yet, spend 10 minutes together hunting for bird nests or finding out how the ants are marching on.
  • Play a game: A nature challenge is a great way to inspire children who get “bored” and are new to getting outside. They just need a few inspiring ideas to get them started on the right path.
  • Make a day of it: Living in the city or an uninspiring suburb can make it feel like an outdoor life is an unrealistic dream. Consider planning a day or an afternoon to head to a nature preserve, park, or hiking trail. Packing a snack and water makes the adventure sustainable. Choose something from the nature challenge to look out for while you are out.
  • Family walk: Walking around the block is the easiest way to get outside together habitually. Finding trees, flowers, birds, and bugs to watch or “check on” each day will draw you outside consistently.

Establishing Boundaries with Screens

It’s important to set strong boundaries to establish good habits and offer inspiring ideas to set children on the right track. If screens have been used as a reward for chores or homework, think through what outdoor substitute to offer. Computers and devices are helpful tools that are often used for homework or research, but they are a pretty unrelenting master. Give time limits and set a timer for yourself so you are reminded about the time limit and then stick to it.

Establishing new habits takes thoughtful planning, but the rewards are incalculable. Children who are offered the gift of nature early in life grow to understand the world in which they live in an embodied way. Let’s prioritize outdoor time and give our children the gift of a full and rich childhood.

" Conservative News Daily does not always share or support the views and opinions expressed here; they are just those of the writer."

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