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As the years have progressed, the tradition of children playing outdoors has reduced to children not playing indoors but rather hardly playing at all. As children have been literally cast under the spell of a glowing smartphone or tablet.

Also, it was observed that today’s children were spending most of their time in front of a bright screen.

According to The Active Healthy Kids Scotland Report Card 2016, it was observed that the children’s physical activity levels declined rapidly and are now nowhere even close to the recommended levels.

The researchers have come up with strategies to encourage children to spend more time playing outdoor games and interacting with kids their age. And thereby decreasing their time on gadgets and phones.

Not that using phones is a bad thing, but instead, making the child realize that there is a whole world outside their front door which looks much bigger and realistic compared to what they see inside a bright glass screen.

Research

The University of Strathclyde along with the University of Aberdeen produced the 2016 Report Card titled,” Unplug and Play”.

According to John Reilly, of the Strathclyde’s School of Psychological Sciences and Health, the amount of time the children had spent on computer or mobile phone screens played a significant role in determining their overall physical and mental well being for years. This along with the rising demands of video games, the fast-moving world of the internet, time spent on smart phones and social media have only increased the intensity of the problem.

This research alone showed how the physical activity in children started decreasing and was also found to be way below the average requirement for a child to spend outdoors. And not only would this affect a child’s academic grades but could also make things more complicated as their health could start deteriorating.

The Solution

Many places provide different solutions to tackle this problem. However, researchers want to focus on a much more simpler strategy of encouraging children to go and spend more time outdoors. Over the years, most of the public health centers have tried to follow in the footsteps of the age-old tradition of the school day. A typical school day would normally consist of -

  • Traveling back and forth to school
  • Recess or Break time between classes
  • Physical Education lessons

Even with these exceptions where children have to spend time outdoors, it still may not be enough for the overall well-being of a child.

Why is PE necessary?

Just like academics, priority should also be given to sports and other outdoor activities. Schools should encourage children to participate in more of these activities as it could contribute to the child’s overall performance and health.

Schools in the 21st Century should be more concerned about providing ample time for the kids to spend time outdoors rather than making them sit in confined spaces.

According to Timothy Meyers, educators should not underestimate the importance of encouraging physical education throughout the entire school day. He also says how PE programs could boost the students to be more active and healthy during their entire lifetime. PE can benefit a child in the following ways -

  • Lower the risks of various diseases
  • Improve academic scores
  • Increase self-esteem in children

In general, spending time outdoors can also help children in developing more socially and emotionally.

Likewise, it can also help in dealing with the problem of obesity in children at a very early age.

A child has the inborn curiosity of always wondering what lies in the distance sometimes unbeknownst to the dangers that lie ahead. And parents upon knowing certain dangers that could cause harm might keep a child safely tucked indoors (all with good intent). The focus then shifts to compelling children to concentrate more on academics and less on outdoor activities. Which ultimately leads to children finding solace in the arms of the internet. This gradually makes children feel satisfied and finds no reason to venture into the outside world anymore. Thus creating early isolation, depression and even obesity.

It’s time we encourage them by saying something they haven't heard in a long time, ‘’Go outside and play!’’.