Tip #12 Match Kids’ Screen Time with Active Time

Jul 05

When the country’s most prominent newspaper headlines a story about kids playing outside (or their lack of it), you know something is amiss. This is what constitutes news? Apparently, so. There is even a celebratory reference to a young girl who actually (gasp) climbs trees!  The Globe and Mail article delves into some pretty dismal statistics lamenting the pathetically low amount of exercise that Canadian kids engage in.  Parents clearly need to take action.

Lack of activity isn’t a problem in my household where my only chance at obtaining any semblance of peace is to lock my three boys outside for long periods of time. However, I realize that not all parents are willing to kick their kids out the door without a lengthy negotiation period with the young’uns where they try to explain the benefits of fresh air and exercise. (Something to do with children’s rights and a desire to take their feelings into account.)

So, here I offer a quick tip to end all wasted efforts in such negotiation that will likely end in stalemate anyways. Set a general rule that every minute your child spends on his rear end in front a screen must be matched with time spent outside. Yes, they may complain of agonizing boredom five minutes after they’ve stepped out the door. I admit that is hard to take as a parent (not because we’re so sympathetic, but because it’s annoying as hell). It may require you to take pro-active measures, such as calling a friend to come over once in a while or offering to take them to a park. You can also take another page from my parenting handbook and offer any number of yard chores for your kids to complete if they can’t figure something out for themselves (they’ll stop griping pretty quick).

I realize this tip may not jibe with some parents, as it requires an ability to withstand copious amounts of complaining… particularly when such a rule is first implemented.  Take some solace in knowing that their outdoor time can be replaced with time spent in organized sports, as well.  The key, here, is to make sure that your kids are learning the importance of balancing sedentary time with active time. If kids don’t build these habits into their lifestyles now, they most certainly won’t do it when they’re grown-ups and busier than ever.  And besides all that… playing outside is, um, playing, after all.  I’m sure all parents can agree, we don’t want our children to be in such dire straits that the next thing we need to teach them is HOW to play.  Do we?


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  1. megan gruner /

    Well said. I think the problem is that children don’t really know how to play any more, I mean really play not just chasing each other around. T.V. and video games have robbed them of their imaginations and without a well developed imagination play can be very difficult. Children are left with re enacting what they saw on the latest movie they saw or just running around randomly. Healthy play in key for not only brain development but also the development of the whole person emotionally, spiritually and mentally. Sad really.

  2. admin /

    Megan, I totally agree with you. It is such a shame, isn’t it?

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