How to get kids away from technology & active this summer
Teens and screens are one of the biggest challenges parents face today. Here’s how to encourage youngsters to put down the smartphone and move more.
Kids need to be active for an hour a day. From the walk to school to playing in the playground, there are plenty of ways they can get this kind of exercise. But with the increasing availability of smartphones, children and teens want to spend more and more time online.
From social isolation to concentration problems, we see new studies every week warning us of the consequences of spending too much time on social media. Still, actually encouraging young ones to go outdoors and get active is becoming harder to do. But once you find a sweet spot, you’ll notice your child will be more engaged with physical activities.
Benefits of exercise for children
Exercise for kids can promote a wide range of benefits: it improves confidence levels, social skills and behaviour, boosts attention levels and school performance, helps with coordination, strengthens bones and muscles, controls weight, and helps little ones get a good night’s sleep.
So how can parents motivate their children to put down the iPhone and get moving? Technology doesn’t have to be a negative thing - it’s all about moderation. Offer activities your kids will love, set solid guidelines for screen-time and you’ll soon see your offspring enjoying more movement. These are a few things to consider:
Three tips to get kids moving more
1. Choose the right activity for your child (and focus on fun!)
Pick the perfect sport or activity for your child and it can do wonders for their self-esteem and provide hours of joy - choose the wrong one and it can do the opposite. Consider your kid’s personality: are they more suited to team or individual activities? Let them participate in both to start off with, with tasters of different activities to see what they naturally enjoy and go from there. Don’t force young people to exercise - make it fun so that they don’t even know they’re doing it.
2. Make activities easy by providing plenty of opportunities
Work, school, chores, meal planning, life in general - responsibilities can’t always be shifted to accommodate a ballet lesson. Always consider your time commitments before signing the kids up for activities and make it simple for them to get to. If you can’t make it to a class or activity, make sure there are plenty of things readily available at home for them to exercise with. Could you cycle to the park instead of taking the car?
The NHS have a wide range of different activity ideas for children, which include:
- Moderate activities such as rollerblading, scooter-riding, walking the dog, cycling or playing at the park.
- Vigorous activities such as swimming, running, football, dancing, gymnastics, rugby, karate, fast cycling, or playing chase.
- Muscle-building activities such as tree climbing, tennis, football, games such as tug of war and swinging on equipment bars at the playground.
- Bone-strengthening activities including hopscotch, skipping, aerobics, running, dance, basketball, jumping and climbing.
3. Limit tech-time
None of us want our children to grow up “chasing likes” on social media. But there’s no rule book for parents in this new digital world. Instead, we must set our own guidelines to encourage healthy moderation with technology use. If your child is spending a solid six hours a day in front of their phone screen, reduce this to three hours a day so that they don’t become addicted to technology. This could be implemented by focussing on tech-free times of the day: no tech before school, no tech at mealtimes and no screens at bedtime.
Here are some fun calisthenics activities to do with your kids. Enjoy!