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It is sad, but American children spend 5-8 hours in front of a screen per day and less than 1 hour outside, which is less time outdoors than prisoners are given.

 Too much screen time can cause sleep problems, higher risk for attention disorders, higher risk for obesity and actually change the chemistry of your child’s brain. I don’t know about you, but those risks scare me.

less outdoor time kids

“The average American child is said to spend 4 to 7 minutes a day in unstructured play outdoors”

According to Child Mind writer Danielle Cohen, “…it’s clear kids spend significantly more time inside than outside. This shift is largely due to technology: The average American child is said to spend 4 to 7 minutes a day in unstructured play outdoors, and over 7 hours a day in front of a screen.

Another study of kids across the US reveals that most kids today are largely unable to play without assistance from either their parents or a toy itself. The most imaginative kids in the study were the ones whose parents gave them space and time to figure things out for themselves. The conclusion of the study shows that modern kids need to be rewired in order to fully engage with unstructured play. ~ author, Jun Lee, QZ

In a recent interview, author & pediatric occupation therapist, Angela Hanscom, said, “Movement through active free play, especially outside, improves everything from creativity to academic success to emotional stability.”  Hanscom also said that children should be spending three hours of unstructured playtime outside each day.  

You may not fully see the benefits of outdoor time, but it is there:

  • Character.  Did you know that play raises self-worth?   When he does it over and over, he is learning to be confident that he will figure this out.   He will learn what works and what doesn’t.   Putting the wheel in that spot with the rock makes it turn to the right.   Moving it over makes it go straight.   He figured that out on his own.
  • Physical Health:  Playing outside not only prevents obesity, but it also helps to prevent diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
  • Learn Patience. I can tell you that we don’t get it.  If you told me to make a dirt pile and then play in it for 30 minutes, with the same toy car, I’d tell you to find another adult to do it.   Now if you asked Beau, our 7-year-old, he would be happy to do it.  He would turn that 30 minutes into 45 because playing teaches him patience.  It takes time to get that dirt mound just right.
  • Motor Skills. His fine motor skills were certainly in play as he built that hill.   He used his coordination, spatial awareness, hand-eye coordination and more to do this.
  • Happiness. He is getting creative, learning what he likes to do. The smile on his face was proof enough.
  • Strong Bones. Did you know that natural light prevents Vitamin D deficiency?  It makes them less vulnerable to bone problems, and cardiovascular disease.
  • Eye Health:  Did you know that children who play outdoors are less likely to need glasses?

How can you limit their indoor time?

1- Swap Screentime for Chores.  This works WONDERS!

chores for screentime cards

2. Be Respectful of their time… 

How to turn off their electronics without an argument 1

3- Spend time doing screen-free things. 

60 screen free activities

Hi there!

I’m Becky, a former elementary school teacher turned certified child development therapist and blogger. I work at home with my husband and together we are raising (and partially homeschooling) our four children in the Carolinas. I love diet coke, ice cream, and spending time with my family.

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