Screen Time vs. Green Time

Most adults recall memories of summers spent riding bikes, running through the sprinkler and
playing in nature. Times have changed. For kids today, there is no shortage of devices available
for engaging in screen time—smartphones, tablets, laptops and TVs. It’s become a part of their
daily lives. According to studies, children spend an average of seven hours a day on screens and
less than 10 minutes a day outside enjoying nature and unstructured play. This outside time is
referred to as “Green Time” and is shown to boost the overall wellbeing of kids (and there’s no
cost!). Screen time on the other hand can have negative impacts, such as sleep deprivation,
delayed learning, vision problems and anxiety.

That being said, not all screen time is bad. For example, time spent on educational activities is
not the same as time spent watching TV. Here are some of the different types of screen time:

1. Social

The use of social networking apps such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok.

2. Passive

Absorbing information from television and movies, or watching endless YouTube videos.

3. Interactive

Completing homework assignments on a computer, or even playing video games.

4. Educational

Using apps and websites that offer tutorials or educational games.

When used in moderation, screen time may be beneficial for kids. For example, interactive
video games can contribute to improved motor skills, and educational apps can make learning
accessible and entertaining. The key is to monitor how electronic devices are being used in your
home, and to set time limits. Too much screen time can rob children of spending time with
other means of learning and exploration.

While it can be difficult to engage kids in non-electronic activities, moving them away from
screens and out into the fresh air has physical, emotional and intellectual benefits.

Reduced Stress

Stress and anxiety aren’t just for grownups—kids experience these feelings
too. Allowing children to have time and space in the fresh air has a calming effect and can
alleviate worries and negative thoughts.

Better Cognitive Function

Outdoor activities promote problem solving and creativity, and can
stimulate multiple senses at the same time. Nature is full of pleasant sights, smells and sounds.

Advanced Motor Skills

A playground is an ideal place to boost gross and fine motor skills.
Climbing, hanging, swinging and sliding are not only fun, these activities also promote muscle
control and coordination.

Improved Sleep

It’s not uncommon for children to lack about two hours of sleep each day.
The fresh air and natural light of an outdoor setting help kids to be calmer and less anxious,
which can result in longer and higher-quality sleep.

Increased Physical Activity – Outside play often includes running and jumping, exercises that
strengthen muscles, bones, heart and lungs, and also reduce the risk of obesity. Even a nature
walk counts as exercise!

Looking for Outdoor Activities? Try a few of these:

  • Play Hopscotch
  • Paint Rocks
  • Go On a Scavenger Hunt
  • Take a Nature Hike
  • Plant a Garden
  • Play with Water
  • Blow Bubbles
  • Make a Leaf Rubbing
  • Identify Trees & Flowers
  • Kick a Ball
  • Play Tag
  • Draw with Sidewalk Chalk

In conclusion, kids who spend time outdoors are typically more attentive, less anxious and
overall happier than kids who spend the majority of time indoors. Don’t let screen time get in
the way of important activities such as family outings, in-person conversations, outdoor-play,
physical activity, and unplugged rest. Parents play an important role in balancing screen time
and green time. Set reasonable time limits for devices and encourage your kids to enjoy the
great outdoors!

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