Less Screen Time and More Green Time

A recent study by the Seattle Children’s Research Institute appearing in the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine discovered that almost 50% of preschoolers lacked even one parent-supervised outdoor play session per day. On average, children aged 10 to 16 now spend only 12.6 minutes a day on vigorous outdoor activity compared with 10.4 waking hours being relatively motionless.

Wait…what? Read that again. Fifty percent of preschoolers do not have even one outdoor play session per day.

If they’re not outside, then what are they doing? Sadly, many of them are glued to a screen mostly motionless, except for an occasional swipe or touch of a finger on a glassy screen.

Last week, I encouraged you to shave off 25% per week of the total time your child spends looking at a screen. And, keep doing that for however many weeks it takes to get down to a safer level. (Children 2-5 years = 1 hour of screen time per day).

Once you’ve cut back on the screen time be prepared now for how you’re going to fill that time.

My suggestion is to do more green time. Studies are clear, children who spend time outside playing in an unstructured way are healthier and happier.

Three things to do this week:

  1. Do some spring cleaning and get the backyard safe for them to play in
  2. Locate nearby parks, beaches,  or public use open areas to take the kids
  3. Get the playtime scheduled on your planner

If you’re a working mother, I know the stress. When my children were younger, we had a fort, sandbox, swing, and an enclosed trampoline. Each day for at least thirty minutes (except when it was lightning or thundering), the boys had to play in the backyard. I usually did this while I was preparing dinner and I could keep an eye on them from the kitchen.

Another tip I’ll share is, we did not allow any television watching or electronic games during the school week. NONE. This eliminated a lot of arguing.

God has given us the world and it’s the best playground imaginable. Children need to explore and learn about His wonderful creation and all of its mysteries by getting outside.

Maybe teach your children this verse this week:

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1

Have them locate the verse in a real Bible, not an ebook version. But if that’s all you have, do that.

Have them write the verse in the dirt using a finger or a stick or on the concrete using chalk.

Our job as parents is to teach our children about God and all of His majesty. What better way to accomplish that than to get off the man-made screen and into the God-made green?

Grandparents? This is a great way for you to spend time with your grandchildren. Even if you’re far away, do a short bit of Facetime or Skype and ask them about their play time. If you can, buy them a trampoline or a backyard fort.

I have found when my children are physically tired, they sleep better. When they’re keyed up from electronic games, they don’t.

I pray this encourages you to do the hard work of parenting and get some strong boundaries in place when it comes to the time your children are on a screen.

Anyone want to share struggles or successes in this area? Or, maybe other suggestions?

(Photo from Pixabay)



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