July is right around the corner. We should be in swimsuits at the beach and having sleepovers outside in our tent, but instead we are bundled up wearing sweatshirts in this cooler temps.
This morning after we finished our daily 4 B’s (beds, breakfast, brush, and Bible) the kids have free time. No technology or television is allowed during free time. Free time is primarily unstructured because it allows them to use their imaginations and get creative.
While it was raining this morning the children had a great time in their choices.
After a quick lunch and cleanup, the five oldest children packed a backpack with water bottles and snacks. They took off on a hike on our property and I probably won’t see them for a few hours. They are making memories with all this time together. I know that some of my best memories include the hours that my brother and I spent outside as children. We would build forts, go for walk, shoot hoops, and ride our bikes.
My children do have access to computers, video games, television, and tablets. However, the more screen time they have we have noticed negative changes in them. So we have begun to strictly limit their screen time. Screen time is made up of time spent watching TV, playing games consoles, using a mobile, computer or tablet.
Technology and Children
Here are some eye opening stats on technology and children I have found while researching.
- One study found that 75% of children under the age of eight have access to smart phones or tablets.
- 56 percent of children, age 8 to 12, have a cellphone
- Children aged five to 16 spend an average of six and a half hours a day
- Teenage boys spend the longest, with an average of eight hours.
Too much screen time has been linked to obesity, eye strain, and lack of social development in children and young adults.
Kids Need Play Time
Studies have found that play time is good for children. While it may look like leisure time as they play house or race cars, they are actually developing life skills. Play time allows for children to be on the move and get physical. Being on the move while playing is healthier than allowing your child to sit for hours getting their daily screen time.
Children involved in physical play are actually providing their bodies with various health benefits. Physical activity promotes early brain development and learning in infants and young children. It also decreases the risk of developing health conditions like coronary heart disease, diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, obesity, and many other chronic health conditions. Play contributes to children’s fine and gross motor development and body awareness as they actively use their bodies.
When children engage in mutual play they are learning the social skills necessary for real life. Taking turns and sharing, expressing feelings, negotiating different terms and conditions, and working through conflicts are just a few of the benefits to playing with other children. Mutual play teaches children to verbalize their feelings as they share experiences or work through conflicts with their peers.
There are many more benefits to children by allowing to play and not have so much screen time. Physically, emotionally, and socially the children benefit from play time more than screen time. So limit screen time, encourage play time, and get outside!