It should come as no surprise that technology has become an integral part of everyday life. From smartphones to televisions and computers, we are surrounded by technology almost constantly. And just to illustrate how ingrained technology is in our lives, think about this; according to a study by Deloitte, the average American checks their phones 46 times per day. It is often the first thing we check when we wake up, and the last thing we look at before going to bed. This behavior is observed by, and often mimicked by our children.
“Parents occupy a privileged position in terms of influencing their children’s physical activity,” says Cheryl A. Zecevic et al.
The main issue is that as the frequency of media use rises amongst children, so too do obesity rates. “There is evidence of a strong link between obesity levels,” says Dr. Adamos Hadjipanayis, secretary general of the European Academy of Pediatrics, “and childhood media exposure.” So, as parents, it is up to us to limit this exposure to technology and encourage physical activity.
“When their TV time goes down, so does their (weight),” said Dr. David Hill, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Council on Communications and Media and a researcher at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill.
But it is important to start small and work your way up. As hard as it might be to believe, it’s difficult to quit technology cold turkey.
“If parents find that their kids are using media for something like 7 hours a day or more, which seems pretty typical… trying all of a sudden to get that down to 2 hours a day is probably not going to be successful,” says Erica Kenney, a researcher at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston. “Gradually implementing rules to help kids cut down on their use is probably going to work better.”
So, take an inventory of your child’s media use and start their, slowly cutting down their screen time and encouraging healthy alternatives, such as…
- Reading is a great way to limit screen time and expand the mind.
- Taking time as a family to play a board game or just sitting around talking is not only a nice alternative to screen time, but also a way to spend more time together as a family.
- Outdoor play – hiking, biking, running, sports, etc. – is always an excellent choice.
“Children have a great need for physical exercise and activity and a chance to use their muscles to run, swing, jump, skate and ride a bike, and to be out in the fresh air and sunshine,” says Dr. Kathleen Alfano.
Hey Kids! Get Out, Get Active!
“People often tend to forget about the importance of spending time outside and underestimate the health benefits,” says Urmet Seepter, goodrelaxation.com.
Conveniently located in Howard County, Maryland, between Baltimore and Washington DC, Terrapin Adventures has a ropes course specifically designed for children ages 5-10 – our Terrapin Explorer kids’ course. With 22 different fun elements, the Terrapin Explorer lets kids walk, balance, swing, zip, and crawl as they get the physical activity they need. We also offer a number of outdoor adventures that are great for the whole family, like biking, kayaking, caving, and geocaching.
Our School’s Out Program (December 27, January 15, and February 19), designed for children ages eight to 12, is a great way to get active. This program has it all: arts and crafts, fun indoor games, nature hikes, zip lining, climbing, swinging, and jumping at our Aerial Adventure Park, and, of course, pizza! The program runs from 8:30 am – 4:30 pm, rain or shine. Cost $69/child.
If you have any questions, please call Terrapin Adventure at 301.725.1313, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
- Alfano, Kathleen . “The Benefits of Outdoor Play.” Fisher Price, 2 Aug. 2017, www.fisher-price.com/en_US/parenting-articles/outdoor-play/the-benefits-of-outdoor-play. Accessed 25 Sept. 2017.
- Eadicicco, Lisa. “Americans Check Their Phones 8 Billion Times Per Day.” Time, Time, time.com/4147614/smartphone-usage-us-2015/.
- Rapaport, Lisa. “Childhood obesity climbing with media use, European doctors warn.” Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 14 Dec. 2017, www.reuters.com/article/us-health-childobesity-europe-media/childhood-obesity-climbing-with-media-use-european-doctors-warn-idUSKBN1E834R.