Summer is nearing its end and cooler weather is around the corner, it’s time to get into nature before the cold of winter descends. Teach your kiddos the value of unplugging and go for a hike this weekend. With great resources like 101 tips to hike (like a pro) with your kids, anyone can throw a few snacks and drinks into a pack and hit the trails this fall.
Screens are ubiquitous these days. We wake up to one every morning, sit in front of one all day, at night we stare at a slightly bigger one, we pawn our kids off on one when we need a break, and usually it’s the last thing we see before we fall asleep.
We’ve lost touch with how to connect with those around us and with the world we live in. Constant updates, texts, and tweest have become our addiction. Screens are a part of our culture and at times they are necessary in our daily lives, so unplugging can seem nearly impossible.
However, research is starting to link increased screen time to serious health concerns, especially in our youth. The list is long, but the highlights are poorer cognitive development, higher rates of addictive tendencies, and a greater likelihood of depression or even suicide.
Twenty years ago, sitting in front of a screen all day wasn’t an option. We didn’t have unlimited access to the world’s knowledge or 24/7 contact with our peers. When parents needed a break they told us to go outside and locked the doors. Kids had to be creative to find ways to entertain themselves because we couldn’t spend hours watching YouTube videos of big wave surfing or reruns of our favorite sitcom.
High-tech toys consisted of a Magic 8-Ball or Teddy Ruxpin, which ultimately ended up under your bed or lost because they were not part of our identity like screens are now. Playing pixelated Mario Kart didn’t enthral kids as much as watching others play Counter Strike does today.
I was a curious kid then and today I’m a curious adult because I spent time touching and feeling the world around me, exploring and experiencing it in the first person.
The cure is easy, put the screens away and get outside. Remember when we were kids? The second we were “let out” we ran, we jumped, we laughed. Being outside, creating our own adventures was all we craved. Simply pretending the ground was lava could occupy an afternoon.
That’s why we need to unplug now, as adults we need to lead the charge. Spark your kid’s imagination with the power of the natural world. Plan a weekend hike at a nearby park or set out down a local forest trail and let your kids have a taste of what being a kid was like 20 years ago. Watch the creativity blossom as they’ll have to figure out what to do without Google’s help.
Being outside has great benefits that quickly counteract the negatives of too much screen time. Stress levels decrease as do the risks of diseases like cancer and heart disease. Sunshine also helps with sleep and even encourages positive moods.
Taking your kids on a hike this weekend is about so much more than simple exercise. Bond as a family, expand their minds and their bodies and one day your children may choose the great outdoors over another round of Candy Crush Saga too, just like you would have done decades ago.