Whether you want to avoid setting your kids up for a fatter, less healthy adulthood, or wish to inspire them to careers that embrace nature, there are many reasons why turning off indoor distractions is a good idea.
A child is only small for a few short years, but those early years are extremely important. The way in which parents guide and direct their children at the beginning of their lives has a long-lasting effect and can influence what kind of adults those children become.
There is mounting evidence that unplugging from technology is one of the greatest favours a parent can do for their child. Contrary to what big tech companies would have you believe, putting a small child in front of the TV or giving them an iPad for hours on end can have more of a detrimental effect than a positive one.
An interesting study was recently published in Britain, spanning 32 years. Researchers used data from the 1970 British Cohort Study, which followed the lives of 17,248 people born in England and Wales in a single week in 1970. When the kids were 10 years old, their parents provided information about their TV-watching habits, whether they played sports, and what their heights and weights were. Decades later, when the subjects were all 42, the subjects self-reported their TV-watching habits, their health status, and their involvement in sports.
The researchers found that subjects who watched more TV as children were most likely to watch more TV in middle age. Those who watched more than 3 hours of TV at age 42 also had watched a lot of TV at age 10. It was also found that a person’s BMI increased according to the amount of TV watched.
“Watching TV for 3+ hours per day was associated with reporting fair or poor health, in comparison to those reporting excellent health. Those participating in vigorous sports at least once a week were less likely to watch 3+ hours of TV per day; watching 3+ hours of TV per day was associated with self-reported overweight/obese.”
There is another compelling reason why turning off the TV is worthwhile. Getting kids outside gets them interested in nature, teaches them to appreciate it, and can lead to wonderful career opportunities, as shown in this short video clip from the World Wildlife Fund. In it, expert scientists cite childhood exposure to nature as being a primary motivating factor in leading them to pursue careers in nature conservation.
So turn off those indoor distractions. Take your kids outside for a walk, a bike ride, or a lengthy play in the backyard. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, just something that can be sustained daily. Start with just a few minutes a day, if you need to, and your children will grow to love it. There's nothing like a curious child to show us forgetful adults how wondrous nature truly is.