The ProblemChildren are spending less time outdoors. A U.K. study says that kids' "roaming radius" has decreased by 90%. Kids between the ages of 8 and 18 spend an astonishing 10+ hours a day using some type of entertainment media, including phones, music players and computers, according to a 2008 study.
Why Our Habits Have Changed
Most families today are two-career families, and one result is that families have less unscheduled time. In addition, fears about crime and other threats have made constant supervision of children the norm, at least until children reach their preteens, and often after that. The harried parents often don't have time to go outdoors with their children, so kids are parked in front of their screens where they will be safe.
What Grandparents Can Do
Grandparents, who may have more free time, are natural choices to accompany grandchildren on nature excursions, especially since many grandparents, having grown up in a different time, have more outdoor experience. Before beginning an outing, however, grandparents should be sure that the parents know about any risks involved. Grandparents and parents need to be on the same page about safety precautions.
According to research compiled by the Children and Nature Network, outdoor time has a variety of benefits for children. Kids who get outside regularly are more active and have lower BMIs (Body Mass Index). They are diagnosed with fewer psychological problems, and they also have less myopia (nearsightedness). Outdoor activity is reportedly especially beneficial for children with certain conditions, such as ADHD. Grandparents may see many of the same benefits for themselves.
In addition to the implications for our personal health, getting young people outdoors has implications for our planet as well. If we foster a love of nature in our children, they will be more likely to have a passion for preserving our natural spaces. One of the very best reasons for getting outdoors is that it is fun. So full speed ahead. . . what are some of the best nature activities for kids?