It’s the weekend again, and you’re faced with the prospect of having to come up with activities for your children. You can’t let them watch the TV and play mobile games all day. And the last game of Monopoly ended in tears. What’s left? The great outdoors of course. Nature beckons, not just for fun activities perfect for the family, but for other positive reasons as well. Heading outdoors should be a vital component in children’s lives. Find out why.
We’re not talking about a marathon here – heading outside with your children for a walk in the park, or a game of frisbee, is plenty enough to get your loved ones’ bodies moving. Throw in a few games of heart-thumping “catching” or other classic childhood games, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a perfectly heart-healthy Saturday afternoon. Outdoor play has also been reported to not only benefit physical health, but also mental health, particularly to cope with anxiety, stress and also develop resilience in children.
Weekends – let alone holidays – can sometimes feel a bit too long. Especially when travel is out of the picture. When boredom strikes, it’s all too tempting to turn to digital devices and watch videos on YouTube for an hour. That usually quickly turns into three. That’s not to say watching a movie as a family is anything wrong. But the temptation for you to binge a full season on Netflix is just as likely to strike your little ones. Nip this problem in the bud by bringing them out to explore the surrounding nature. Leave their smartphones and tablets at home. If they do insist on bringing their devices, parents may try to use parental control applications such as the planoApp, which lets parents control their children’s device use when they get too engrossed using these small screens while out and about.
Outdoor play, together with the reduced time spent on near work activities (and yes, this includes the time spent on small device screens) have also been reported to reduce the risk of developing myopia (short-sightedness) and slow its progression. A recently published stud by researchers from China further supports the association between outdoor time and myopia prevention in children. Though it is yet to be determined how much and how often children should spend outdoors, a general guideline is for children to spend at least 2 hours of outdoor time each day.
At the end of the day, there’s not really any harm with heading outdoors since it is a vital component. Just remind your children to apply sunscreen liberally. So slip in some time to explore the great outdoors whenever possible and reap the benefits later in life.
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