Outdoor play: no screens required

Cast your mind back merely two decades ago and the thought of children sitting in front of screens would send shivers down any mother’s spine. The good old days when too much TV would set your eyes square and kill your brain cells! We all laugh, but mum was probably right all along.

Don’t tell her.

I’m certainly not about to throw it all out there and ban screens from my household. I value my sanity and, let’s be honest, ‘100 per cent screen-free’ is one heck of a claim in the 21st century.

That said, instead of preaching on and perhaps judging other households who do have a lot of screentime, it would be beneficial if we all simply remembered how great things can be if you just turn off the phone/tablet/tele/laptop/games console [delete as required] for a short while and enjoy being outdoors. Or just being.

Just being.

Christmas is a fabulous time to encourage children to switch off the screen and spend time doing other stuff. Gifting outdoorsy items such as skates, scooters, and skateboards, for example, is exciting and they’ll want to get out there to play with the friends.

Rather than creating rules and regulations for screen time, how about we just make the other stuff just as fun so it appeals to our kids, tweens, and teens.

Mind-blowing, I know.

As well as reducing the amount of time spent on YouTube, Fortnite, and [enter your tech nemesis here], it’s more about kids reaping the rewards of outdoor play. Health wise, fresh air improves their blood pressure and heart rate, they’re running around, exercising, working their body, increasing the oxygen flow in their blood. It’s all good.

But there’s more to it than that. Sure, they’re not sat still indoors, scoffing, sweets. Thumbs up. Really, though, outdoor play is about developing skills, learning independence, creatively spending time. Seeing friends, enhancing social skills, improving overall wellbeing as little human creatures who very much need and enjoy spending time with other little human creatures.

We know enjoyment of exercise and social skills are important long-term. We have that knowledge nowadays. We’re privileged in that way. With that in mind, as parents, let’s get nostalgic and make playing outdoors as appealing as it was, way back when.


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