“Screen time” isn’t necessarily a bad thing, in and of itself. Spending time in front of computers, mobile devices, smartphones, TVs, and even video game screens stimulates the mind, and can open us up to all sorts of learning experiences and other engaging possibilities. But while this may be true, too much screen time can also be a bad thing, especially where our children are concerned. Not surprisingly, the spread of COVID-19 only served to increase the amount of screen time for people across all demographic categories. One recent parent survey revealed that average screen time for their children under age 17 topped out around 3 hours before COVID, but after the pandemic set in, that number extended to 4 hours, or more!
So, what’s a constructive way to help limit your kids’ screen time? Get them outdoors and away from those screens!
Screen time is acceptable and even beneficial for many children in limited amounts. What are those limits? The American Academy of Pediatrics gives these guidelines for recommended amounts of allowed screen time for children according to these age breakdowns:
Too much screen time has negative impacts on adults too, just as it does for children. Too much screen time puts everyone at greater risk of obesity, is linked to sleep disturbances, and can negatively impact interpersonal relationships. But the negative effects for children and teens can be even greater. Studies show a positive correlation between excessive screen time and greater instances of anxiety and depression, along with development of a too-short attention span.
So, what can you do as a parent? How can you help to curb and limit the amount of time your children are spending in front of screens, especially when they’re not in school? Here’s an overview of some tips shared by the fine folks at the Mayo Clinic:
Set some expectations with your kids, and start by telling them why too much screen time is a bad thing.
If your kids are already used to spending significant amounts of leisure time on their screens, start by setting some incremental goals that are easier to attain. Going straight from 4+ hours down to one hour of screen time per day may be too much of a culture shock to swallow at once. Maybe you could start by cutting whatever the current amount of screen time is in half, and then set another goal once you’ve reached that one.
Turning your family meal areas into phone-free and device-free zones is an easy way to start. Just make sure you practice what you preach! If you’re consistent in modeling it yourself, it’ll be much easier for your kids to follow suit.
During designated screen-free times, put devices away or just place them all at a common charging station. That way, those screens won’t even have an opportunity to attract your kids’ attention!
Putting down the phone and taking a walk with your kids, tossing a frisbee around, or taking them to the playground are all great, healthy ways to enjoy the great outdoors together.
When all is said and done, one of the best things you can do is to spend time engaging your kids face-to-face. Once they get home from school and you get home from work, spend some time every day talking with your kids, really listening to them, and giving them your full attention.
Speaking of getting outside, one of the best ways to spend outdoor time is to take your children to the playground at a school, park, church, or community area near you. Backyard swing sets are nice to have, but there are several benefits that come along with being to take advantage of some well-designed, commercial-quality playground equipment. Playgrounds of this caliber are designed to be places where children can exercise, socialize, build motor skills, stimulate their developing brains, and just have some good, old-fashioned fun!
One negative impact of having so many devices and screens readily available is that they tend to lure children into staying indoors. Having access to the right playground equipment encourages children to experience more outdoor activities that are both fun and healthy for them.
Playgrounds are a great way to get the heart pumping, stretch those limbs, get those muscles moving, and take in some fresh air. In addition, playgrounds are a great way to help your kids burn off some excess energy!
Interactive playground equipment encourages children to work together, and teaches them to cooperate. For example, play elements like seesaws are designed to be used with a partner. And waiting for their turn to use a favorite play feature teaches children the importance of developing patience, too.
When children are given open-ended play options like they’ll find on a commercial playground, their creativity is stimulated. Better problem-solving skills are developed, too. And one of the cool things about going to a playground which features plenty of play elements is that no two play experiences are exactly the same!
For a school environment in particular, some of the greatest “moment of truth” learning experiences may not take place within the four walls of a classroom; they happen out on the playground. And teachers who are intentional can use things that children learn on the playground to supplement and enhance what they’re teaching in the classroom, too.
Sometimes, school can feel like a stressful place for children. Pressures at home can take their toll on kids, too. Being able to enjoy physical activity on the playground can facilitate the release of helpful endorphins, which serve to alleviate feelings of stress, anxiety, or depression in children. In addition, playground activity can benefit the development of other important cognitive skills, too.
Looking for some good commercial playground equipment to have installed at your school, preschool, daycare, park, municipal, HOA, or community facility? Need some help designing the perfect playground environment for your organization? Carolina Recreation & Design provides and installs complete commercial playgrounds, outdoor playground equipment and play structures, safe playground surfacing, playground canopies, sun shades, outdoor seating, covered shelters, and anything else you may need!
Our start-to-finish, full-service solutions include everything from site design, to site preparation, to permitting, to electrical, water, & sewer work, to fencing, landscaping, and more. In other words, we do more than just simply provide the best playgrounds, play structures, and accessories; we go the extra mile to deliver complete turnkey solutions for you and your organization!
Got some questions? Ready to get started on your playground facility in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, or Tennessee? Just give us a call today at (704) 664-1833! You can also connect with us by filling out this simple form. Carolina Recreation & Design has all your commercial playground installation and site prep needs covered!
Carolina Recreation & Design is a full-service general contracting company offering turnkey installation of recreational products for parks, schools, churches, clubs, daycares and amusement parks. We offer premium-quality commercial products that are safe, fun, and built to last.