The average child devotes four and a half hours per day to screen time.
Whether they’re watching television or YouTube, engaging in social media, or playing video games, one thing is very clear:
The amount of time the average child spends in front of a screen far outnumbers the amount of time that child is spending outdoors.
At present, the average kid spends about 4 to 7 minutes a day outdoors. Back in 2016, there was a study done in the UK, which found that prison inmates, who spend two hours outdoors, get more time outside than children often do.
In fact, children today are playing outdoors at a rate of only half the time their parents did. With the increasingly addictive allure of computers, tablets, and smart phones, kids will only find more reasons to stay plopped on the couch in front of a screen. In turn, they’ll miss out on all of the endless mysteries, adventures, benefits, and opportunities that nature has to offer.
Here’s a list of 10 reasons why children should spend more time in nature and less time in front of a (boring) screen…
1. Spending time in nature expands a child’s creativity and imagination. Forests, meadows, beaches, even a tiny patch of grass — all of these places are brimming with life. A certain kind of magic happens when a child is outdoors. Sticks, rocks, soil, and sand are transformed into play things. Kids become inventors; they start to stretch their minds in order to find new ways to play and engage. Nature has a way of liberating the deep, wild currents of imagination.
2. The powers of nature are deeply healing and restorative. Just a simple walk down a trail or by a lake can work wonders on the body, mind, and spirit. This promotes a true sense of wellbeing and health.
3. To add to the last reason — being in nature allows for a stronger and more vibrant immune system. This is no doubt due to a combination of factors, one of them being that when children or adults are in nature, they are usually active. The body gets a great boost of health and vitality that simply can’t be found sinking into a couch, watching old reruns on the television. Breathing in fresh oxygen is extremely beneficial for enhancing the body’s immune system. This means less sickness, and more healthy, happy days.
4. Studies have been done to show that being in nature is good for memory and concentration. It makes sense, as the brain is able to perform better and with more alertness, with that extra dose of oxygen. This is great news for kids, as it will allow them to focus more in school and perform better during tests.
5. Another benefit of being outdoors is that stress is lowered significantly. People who spend more time in nature have less cortisol in the body.
6. Children who spend a lot of time in front of a screen have higher rates of obesity. So if they’re out in nature and active, they can no doubt avoid obesity, therefore staying slimmer and healthier!
7. Being outdoors puts children in the space to engage with unstructured play, which is wildly beneficial. Unstructured play allows for kids to figure out solutions, respond spontaneously in the moment, adapt, and learn flexibility. It grants them a healthy dose of freedom to flow from one activity to the next. Nowadays, we have our kids engaged in so much planned, structured play. They’re on sports teams and in after-school classes, and unable to make space and time for a good, healthy amount of free, unstructured activity.
8. Being out in nature builds character and confidence. They can hunt for treasure, climb trees, explore grassy fields, pick flowers, and discover new adventures in every direction.
9. Studies have shown that being in nature lifts the mood, battling away any sadness, anxiety, or negative emotions. A romp through nature is much more inspiring and constructive than playing a violent video game.
10. Finally, being in nature encourages kids to connect to life, to cycles, to plants, to animals, to the elements…and there is nothing more magical than that. Being outside fosters a deeper connection to the beauty of nature, and an understanding of who we are as living beings.