I have recently become aware of how much time my boys spend indoors. Not only that, but how much time they spend watching tv and movies and playing video games. For those who don't know or couldn't guess, based on what I've already said, they spend a lot of time indoors in front of the television.
How did this happen? I mean, I know that so much "tube time" isn't good for anyone, let alone young, growing children. I know that they need to be playing, often outside, a lot! The truth is that I let my guard down and tv time snuck in. I often used it as a babysitter and allowed the boys almost unlimited access to its special brand of hypnosis. PBS, Netflix, and Wii games became as common as food around here, and I know that isn't a good thing.
In fact, according to this site, TV viewing can contribute to all kinds of problems from obesity, health problems, and sleep disturbances to violence, poor grades in school-aged children, and increased use of alcohol and drugs as children get older.
And according to this article, a lack of free play can contribute to anxiety, depression and short attention spans in children. In contrast, free play time helps children gain decision making, problem solving, and self-control skills. It helps them learn how to handle emotions and get along with others.
OK, I know my kids need less screen time and more play time and in an attempt to get just that I intend to start a 30 day experiment I am calling, "The Playground Project." For 30 days I intend to
get my children playing for at least an hour a day. I'm not too particular on where they play, as long as it is not at home where TV will be a temptation. We will probably try some new places and rainy or particularly cold days may merit a trip to the mall's indoor play area or a fast food restaurant's play area, but I'm going to try to get us all outdoors if possible and practical each day. It helps that there is not one but TWO playgrounds right next door to our apartment!
I hope to blog about this expiriment at least weekly. Lets see how free play time changes our family over the next month! Please, any readers who have children, feel free to take the challenge also! It can mean only good things for you and your kids!