These days, it is not very surprising to encounter a child who can navigate an electronic gadget with expert hands. Toddlers who have yet to learn their ABCs are now responding to technology with almost effortless ease and parents are finding it increasingly difficult to limit their children’s access to the Internet. This change in lifestyle is slowly leading up to the extinction of outdoor play.
Technology vs Outdoor Play
Every day, new apps catering to kids under 8 years old are created and made easily downloadable on tablets and mobile phones. Sure, these apps are oftentimes educational, so allowing kids to enjoy them does have its benefits. However, overexposure to this type of learning barely leaves room for a growing child to go out and experience outdoor play.
In the battle between nature and gadgets, the latter wins the majority of the time.
We can understand the appeal of technology to a kid in the digital age. Kids have short attention spans, and digital apps allow them to easily switch games once they grow tired of the one they’re currently playing. And it’s not just the children – parents also realize the convenience of not having to clean up after a messy playtime session, and some would find it easier to attend to the things they have to do when their children are completely focused on their PCs, tablets, and other electronic devices.
But why is it important to encourage your children to leave their gadgets for a while and play outside?
Children Get Fit at the Playground
Playing actively outdoors improves physical health. It strengthens the immune system, and helps children be less vulnerable to diseases they are likely to develop should they grow up to lead a sedentary lifestyle. Outside, children are most likely to run, jump, and skip around – allowing them to get the daily exercise they need to keep them in shape at a young age. This reduces the risk of obesity, which is a heart disease risk factor that was found to have doubled in the past decade.
The Playground Is an Avenue for Children to Make Friends and Develop Their Social Intelligence
When playing with their peers, children are given the chance to overcome their shyness and learn how to function within a group. They become aware of the myriad of personalities present outside television programs, and they learn to deal with them accordingly. This promotes a number of social skills such as cooperation, leadership, and sensitivity to the needs of others.
Outdoor Play Makes Children More Creative
Having no access to the Internet, children are most likely to rely on their imagination to make playtime fun and interesting. They will be more inclined to invent games and make up their own rules. This teaches them to think outside the box.
Kids Can Help Reduce Carbon Footprint by Playing without the Use of Electricity
Having fun in the playground requires nothing but a blissful amount of sunlight and enthusiasm. An outdoor swing doesn’t need to be recharged, nor does a seesaw require the use of four triple-A batteries. It’s good for the environment, and it’s economical!
However, even with all these known advantages of outdoor play, making the playground more appealing to kids is not as easy as it was before when building a fort was more exciting than playing Temple Run. Nowadays, children ask for gadgets more than they ask for toys.
Raising a kid in the 21st century is indeed a challenge to parents who want to strike a balance between technology and outdoor play. And the children are not to blame – what with the countless technological innovations that distract them from the wonders of playing outside, sometimes technology is just really difficult to compete with.
You shouldn’t lose hope, though, because here we list a number of ideas that could help change the way kids play and make them excited to go out in the playground again. Who knows, maybe they just might give that iPad a rest!
Apply these tips in any way you can, and see how your children respond:
Allow Them to Make a Mess!
Oftentimes children are discouraged to get themselves dirty during playtime, but it is in the messy dollops of paint and sticky bars of clay that children develop their creativity the most. Allow them to play around the garden and get wet using sprinklers – not only is it fun and liberating, but it is also a great way to encourage playground interaction between parents and kids!
Introduce to Them the Idea of Building Their Own Play Space
Kids are usually thrilled by the idea of playing “pretend”. Use this to their advantage and encourage them to build a playhouse, a fort, or a tent that can serve as their secret “headquarters” during playtime. You can also help your children with a nature-themed playground project that will make them appreciate how fun playing outside can be.
Integrate Your Child’s Interests When Creating a Play Space
Do your kids enjoy music? Create a DIY music wall on your fence by hanging improvised instruments! Do they like sports? Turn your backyard into a kiddie basketball court! Know what your children are interested in, and surprise them with a DIY playground that will fascinate them and make them want to play outside.
Show Them that You’re Having Fun Outside Too!
Children are often influenced by the lifestyle of their parents. If you are one of those parents whose means of recreation are always confined within the corners of your home, maybe it’s time to try something new! Go on a camping trip, or invite friends over for a barbeque. Your children can become instant playmates while you dine in your backyard with your friends!