The trouble with screen time and being sedentary is that we do too much of it and too little time hooked on nature outside the walls and our screens.
Forty-six per cent of Canadian children are getting three hours or less of active play per week according to Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) by Statistics Canada.
Get hooked on nature outside
My childhood summers were garden and woodland adventures, picnics, daisy chains and eating dirty carrots straight from the vegetable patch, but that is rare today.
According to the David Suzuki Foundation, 70 per cent of 13 to 20 year olds spend an hour or less outside each day.
CHMS found that youth spend “an average 8.6 hours sedentary… during waking hours.” How much of this sedentary time is spent staring at a screen?
The Canadian Paediatric Society suggests children limit their total screen time to no more than one to two hours a day.
Childhood obesity rates, behavioural problems, diabetes and depression are increasing. Yet time in nature is shown to reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure and stress levels.
The very thing we need we avoid.
Why are we missing out on nature?
By staying indoors children are missing the joy and development opportunities that come from being outside.
Nature is ever-changing and a good teacher for flexibility and adaptation as we grow up.
If children aren’t given time in nature, they are less likely to feel a need to protect it in the future.
We must forge a nature habit, which, like any habit, requires commitment and a desire. It is never too late to learn to love nature.
Elderly care homes and hospitals find that patients with a view of trees and green space actually recover faster and require less pain medication.
When my paternal grandmother was dying she loved the bird feeder we put on her bedroom window. Her frail face lit up when the bold, chirpy, little robin ate seeds and sang heartily at the window. She rarely spoke towards the end, but I remember her smile as she remarked: “Ooh you cheeky thing” as the robin tapped his beak at the window. The feeder was out of seeds; he was just making sure we noticed!
Get hooked on nature and outside – for children
Unstructured, outdoor, nature time gives children space, inspires them and ensures healthy development whilst building confidence, capability and competence.
Our brains develop according to our environment. A brain brought up with a regular dose of nature will differ to a brain given lots of screen time.
Too much screen time negatively impacts aspects of cognitive and psychosocial development.
According to the film Project Wild Thing, available on Netflix, the likelihood of a child being abducted is similar to that of being struck by lightning. Could the fear of the outdoors be greater than the reality?
This is a superb film and a must see for anyone with or without children!
Ask yourself questions about being hooked on nature and outside:
As Nature Play Nanny says we need to ask different questions of ourselves each day, not: “Did you work hard?” or “Are you busy?” but “What made you smile today?”, “Did you laugh a lot?” and “What was the most beautiful flower or tree you saw?”
“Did you feel the wind kissing your face today?”
These questions ensure we engage with nature, we LOOK, we SEE and appreciate the outdoors, the wind, the rain, the sun, the shade and the shadows.
Get hooked on nature and outside – for adults – we need nature too!
How to get hooked on nature outside is easier than you might think, simply having your lunch by a tree or small patch of lawn begins the inquisitive nature that stems from surrounding yourself with nature outside. You’ll likely see a bug, a butterfly or a bee, just doing their thing. Nature is always moving, evolving.
With adult rates of obesity, depression and anxiety on the rise, nature is a perfect antidote. Us adults need nature, daily time in and amongst the wonders of flowers, trees and animals.
As ironic as it is why not download the “Wild Time” app which has lots of great resources for outside play for children and adults, ranging from 10 minutes to half a day! This blog (Nature Play Nanny) also has some inspiring stories of why it is important to get children into nature.
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This article first appeared in The Question newspaper British Columbia. http://www.whistlerquestion.com/opinion/columnists/non-toxic-living-get-hooked-on-nature-and-the-outdoors-1.2039536