Go Out and Play

Kids can find happiness in green time, not screen time.

by - Posted on Mar 1, 2008

It's a beautiful spring day. Birds are singing, flowers are blooming, and the kids are playing...video games. Inside.

That's not an unusual scenario these days. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation Study on media use among children, kids in the U.S. spend an average of nearly six hours a day in front of a TV, computer or gaming console screen.

With media devices becoming more portable and more loaded with options, no wonder kids are less likely than ever to play outside.

This lack of green time has worrisome consequences, says Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods. He cites increased tendencies toward obesity, depression and ADHD.

Kids who play outside are more imaginative and more likely to become emotionally well-balanced adults than those who lead sedentary indoor lives, Louv argues.

Why? Unstructured play encourages creativity. And exposure to a world beyond his home gives a child a sense of perspective.

Try these simple ideas for getting your kids off the couch and into the great outdoors:

Hiking
Take kids tramping through nearby woods and parks, but make sure they understand the importance of trail safety and respect for nature. 

The Playground
Remember how fun it was to hang upside-down from the monkey bars? Plus, your kids will develop better social skills being around their peers. 

Camping
Whether you're roughing it in tents or sleeping in an RV, getting out of the house for a night or two will strengthen your kids' bond with nature. Cooking on a campfire, stargazing and listening to the chirping of crickets will do wonders for their souls—and for yours. 

Picnics
Why not dine al fresco? When they're done eating, kids can play tag, climb a tree or explore. They just might find that green time beats screen time!

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