As warmer weather hits and summer vacation looms on the horizon, it’s important to get back to basics with your kids by unplugging. Based on research, children aged right to 18 spend an average of eight and a half hours a day in front of a screen.
Kids are so glued to their screens they’ve started multi-screening: using more than one device at the same time, for example, watching TV while surfing the internet on a tablet or mobile.
Woah. #SummerGoal17 Unplug to Recharge – outside!
Chesapeake Bay KOA sat down with Jane Virden, Nurse Manager at Johns Hopkins Hospital, for a brief Q&A on getting kids unplugged and into the great outdoors.
1. With so many "screens" children can interact with, why is it important for them to "unplug"?
From what I’ve seen interacting with kids, toddlers to teens is allowing them unchecked time on their phone affects their safety, their health, and their socialization.
As a parent, I know it’s difficult to force your kids to put down the phone, but at the end of the day it really will help them steer clear of obesity, gain confidence and better communicate with the people around them.
2. What is the recommended time for screens? Does this vary by age?
Well, it certainly varies by age and maturity level, but regardless of those two factors, I think it’s best to encourage other activities like art, music or sports.
From my experience, I kept it to 1-2 hours when my kids were younger.
3. We’re a camping resort, so we have to ask: what is the biggest benefit you see for children going outside?
Simple: getting fresh air and exercising plus being present with other kids really helps with their development and confidence.
4. From a medical perspective - could something like camping be a vital outlet to raising healthy/unplugged children?
Absolutely, camping is a natural holistic approach to encouraging kids to unplug and recharge outdoors. You can do so many things – tell stories, play games, kayak, swim, the list goes on.
I think when you expose kids to an environment that’s rich in fun, they forget about their phones and go back to just being kids.
5. What activities do you recommend for getting kids to unplug?
I think team activities are at the top of my list. I’d also say riding bikes, playing pool games or swimming. Also, painting or sculpting. Plus, having a pet that needs some amount of attention is always a sure fire way to get them off the phone and outside.
6. How do you think parents can be more mindful about unplugging themselves?
This is tricky because a lot of parents have so much going on – work, clubs, kid’s stuff, or personal interests.
I like that some people require at meals that everyone places their phones in the basket, so you have to communicate, interact.
Also, I think parents can look at their schedules and put together their own time off the phone, where they connect with the family outdoors. It’s so important for children to see their parents not glued to the screens! Kids are so impressionable. If they notice mom or dad puts the phone down to ride a bike, play with the dog outside or paint a picture; they’ll be more inclined to do it.
7. What is the impact of children seeing their parents using technology?
Like I said, I kids watch their parents. If a child sees a parent on the phone all day, they’ll think it is ok for them to use technology, so set limits for both.
8. Anything else you'd like to add?
Sure, I think my last thing is – this is all new territory - phones, tablets, computers, etc. We don’t have all the answers. However, what we do know is this: too much time on with these screens can have a negative impact on kids, teens and, yes, even adults.
By unplugging and heading outside, you’re getting back to the basics of taking care of yourself, stretching your limbs or working your brain. You can’t beat that.