The importance of kids playing outdoors
The winter months can mean kids are kept cooped up indoors for long periods of time, and as a result many will turn to computer games, films and games consoles. Whilst these activities are fine in small doses, the benefits of outdoor play should not be forgotten! Despite the chill, it’s still vital that kids get outside, breath fresh air and get some exercise. Tempting children outside can seem like a challenge, especially with those who have stacks of games and movies on hand. Why not go through your cupboards, sell DVDs which have been watched countless times, and put the money towards something which could help get kids outdoors? This might be anything from a new sledge or a pair of brightly coloured wellies for those rainier winter days?
Whilst kids are quietly being entertained by technology, it can be easy for mums to forget the negative aspects of these activities, as well as the benefits gained from outdoor play. Computer games have been a particular cause for concern. Earlier this year teachers warned that a growing number of children were acting out violent scenes and accidents, as a result of seeing such images whilst playing computer games. The Association of Teachers and Lecturers conference was told that kids as young as four or five were acting out scenes like car crashes, and were far more aggressive as a result of playing games.
The duration of play time may also be a cause for concern. Doctors have made connections between long periods of computer game use by children and the condition tendinitis, which causes an inflammation between the muscles and bones.
Dwelling on the negative is of little benefit to anyone though, and instead mums should remember the positives of outdoor play when encouraging children to desert that TV screen.
Playing outdoors promotes exercise and can improve physical and aerobic fitness in kids. Getting kids outside and enjoying physical activity from a young age may also mean they are keener to take up sports and exercise in the future. During childhood, development is shaped by attitude and environment and time outdoors will contribute significantly to this. Active play can help develop muscle strength, improve coordination and increase flexibility and motor skills. Rather than using the same small group of muscles which may be employed when gaming on a console indoors, playing outdoors naturally necessitates the use of a variety of muscle groups.
As well as physical benefits, there are a huge number of emotional and social reasons why outdoor play should be encouraged. Being outdoors and exploring environments and using new equipment (think cycling, tree climbing, roller skating etc.) means kids’ confidence and skillset can grow. Unsupervised play means older ones will gain independence which in turn can improve social skills and provide a good platform for later life.
So, turn off the telly, sell those DVDs and unplug the consoles and instead embrace the great outdoors with your kids!
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