The Great Outdoors

{photo from a family session last weekend}

I have already noticed that Arlo loves being outside... it is so much more exciting out there! It's a beautiful, fun-filled place. As kids, a lot of us spent hours and hours outside playing make believe games, playing "unorganized" neighborhood sports, exploring in forests (if there were any nearby), riding bikes, and just using our imaginations. This is quickly changing and I hope it doesn't change for my children.

According to the Nielson company, children ages 2-5 (yes, 2-5) spend an average of 32.5 hours a week in front of a screen! YIKES! That is over 4 hours a day. Read more, HERE.

"Pediatricians nowadays see fewer kids with broken bones from climbing trees and more children with longer-lasting repetitive-stress injuries, which are related to playing video games and typing at keyboards. Indoors is in. Outdoors is out – as in, out of favor with kids. "I like to play indoors better, because that's where all the electrical outlets are," said a fourth-grader quoted in the book Last Child in the Woods, in which author Richard Louv coins the term "nature deficit disorder."
From THIS article.

Society inadvertently teaches children to fear the outdoors, where there's traffic, nature and strangers, and feel safest inside

Yes, I agree that letting your kids roam around outdoors on their own is scary. That worries me in the future... how many kids do you hear about on the news who are taken while walking to or from a friend's house or out at the neighborhood park? At least when they are younger, we can be out there with them. As they grow older, that can be more of a challenge.

But, "research shows interaction with the natural environment plays an important role in children's development, including building problem-solving and critical thinking skills, as well as fostering creativity."

I think the occasional movie, computer game, etc. is fine. But, life needs balance. Too much of anything is not a good thing.

It's hard to get kids out when it's rainy and wet (although, I remember many days of playing in the rain!), however, here are some ideas and reads on getting your kids to enjoy the great outdoors:

Kids and Nature: They Need Each Other, from Simple Mom

Saving Kids from 'Nature Deficit Disorder', from NPR

30 Ways to Get Your Kid to Play Outside, from the Daily Green

Green Hour, the parent's place for nature, play, & learning

This video really makes me laugh because it's full of cheese, but the texting part reminds me of my little sister.... my mom told me that last month she sent 15,000 text messages last month, SERIOUSLY?!?!


The Barlows said...

Amen Sister!! I couldn't agree more! It's time to get the kids out from in front of the t.v. and kick their butts outside! That's something I really want to focus on when we bring out little one into the world.

Darcy Taylor said...

This is my greatest fear about raising kids in our society today. I personally know enough "zombie" kids who you couldn't pay to go play outside or go for a walk that I am scared to death of letting my kids even have video games or cell phones. I bring this up with Chris all of the time. Chris actually mentioned to me once that he would like us to read that book "Last Child in the Woods", I can't remember if he has already read it.

I have talked with friends who say that their kids cannot just approach other kids in the neighborhood to spontaneously play and make friends, because there are no kids playing outside to even meet - they are always indoors. Parents have to try and meet parents and then set up play dates with their kids - scheduled fun. Weird and scary.

Anyway, there is my little rant. I truly do think about this all of the time, especially since Chris and I do use our computers a lot. If we want our kids to not be addicted to electronics, we need to wean ourselves off of them too. We watch very little TV, but we are making an effort at searching the internet less, going to facebook less, etc - I have a long way to go. I had Chris block facebook on our home network and I have since read half of the classic novel Dracula. I fully intend to replace my electronic time wasting with good literature and actual socializing...with real people! Thanks for the info, Courtney.

matriarch said...

This Meridian Magazine article applies directly to what you're saying:
When I was a child we seldom went in the house during the summer. We were at the local swimming pool, climbing my grandmother's weeping willow tree, playing at the park, digging in the dirt because we thought if we dug deep enough we could get to China, etc., etc. By the time summer was over we were brown as indians from being out in the sun so much. I remember those days with fondness.

Zach said...

I too remember spending almost all of my days outside. Less so in the winter, but not by much. There was nothing to do inside. I wonder if we are too paranoid about letting our kids be outside.

Zach said...

Sorry court, that was me (ksenia).

Justin said...

Where did that guy get a crocodile skull!?