Summertime has arrived and the children are inside, hands grasping electronics; cell phones, iPads, tablets, PlayStations, and Xboxes to name a few. (There is even an electronic play phone for babies as young as six months, by Vtech, considered an educational toy.)
You suggest that the children go outside to play and are greeted with strange looks. What is this thing you call outside to play?
According to the CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children should get a minimum of one hour of physical activity each day. Compare this with the average amount of time a child spends in front of a screen.
Note: Due to overlapping media use, these figures cannot be summed. Average times are among all young people, not just those who used a particular media that day.
A combination of poor diet and lack of physical activity can be lethal.
Overweight children are targets of teasing and at risk for emotional trauma as well as cardiovascular disease, asthma, sleep apnea (breathing stops during sleep for more than 10 seconds), and Type 2 diabetes. Much of this might be avoided.
Children model the behavior of their parents. Include more physical activity into your own life and ask your children to join in on the fun.
- Have a scavenger hunt in your backyard.
- Jump through sprinklers.
- Blow bubbles.
- Play freeze tag, hide-and-seek, red-light green-light, Mother-May-I
- Go to the pool, lake, or beach.
- Have a picnic.
- Use colored chalk for sidewalk art, tic-tac-toe, hopscotch, or clues for a treasure or scavenger hunt.
- Play parachute games using an old sheet.
- Paint with water and large brushes. (Good to help clean-up the sidewalk chalk.)
- Bring out the boom box and dance.
- If it’s a warm, rainy day with no thunder and lightning, get out the swimsuits and play in the rain.
These activities cost little to no money. The kids will get lots of physical activity without realizing it.
Dietz, WH. Pediatrics. 1998 Mar; 101. (3 Pt 2): 518-25.