According to a recent study from the University of Michigan, children in America ages 2-5 spend 32 hours a week in front of a TV—watching television, DVDs, Youtube, and using a game console. We know there are negative consequences as a result of being glued to the TV and screens for hours including obesity, eyesight, and being anti-social. So why would we allow our children to continue this habit?
On the other hand, playing outside and spending time outdoors with other children can shape their personality and help our children develop essential social skills. As parents and caregivers, we need to take responsibility of our children’s health and create more opportunities for our children to develop better life skills.
Let’s explore some of the benefits of what playing outdoors can do for our children.
Benefits of Playing Outdoors for Children
Benefits of playing outdoor through means of games or with other children provide many health benefits. Let’s explore the benefits of outdoor activities listed below.
1. Opportunity to Learn New Things
Children can enhance their learning abilities by playing outdoor games because being outdoors allows them to get exposed to new environments while they interact with experiences they cannot get indoors. These are essential life skills and lessons to experience during their prime years. Being outdoors forces children to think and move around more freely as opposed to sitting on a couch at home.
2. Improves Physical Health
When children are in an outdoor environment, they’re more active which results in higher physical stamina and development. While they’re playing outdoors, they’re also strengthening their muscles and bones while building immunity. This is a crucial part to a child’s daily routine as it lowers the risk of disease such as diabetes, heart complications, and obesity. Putting out children outdoors under supervision allows them to be exposed to nature providing natural Vitamin D and away from toxic blue light from electronics and television screens which could damage our children’s vision.
3. Boosts Creativity
Putting our children in outdoor environments creates more time to imagine outdoors. Children are exposed to new experiences as they interact with mother nature boosting their imagination skills. There is a healing component to being surrounded in nature, plants, and trees and this can help stimulate children’s imaginations as they tap in to their creativity.
4. Develops Social Skills
When children are placed indoors, particularly in their rooms or watching TV, they’re isolated and withdrawn from social environments. This makes it difficult for children to interact as it constricts their social skills. Children who play outdoors are encouraged to socialize as they are more active and interacting with nature and/or other children. Take a local children’s playground for example, children encounter other children playing and they immediately begin to socialize or attempt to in some form which is a great natural way for them to build their social skills.
5. Develop Positive Attitudes
Children are always curious. As parents and caregivers we should create more opportunities for our children to gain new experiences which in turn will boost their mood. Children who are exposed to the outside world tend to develop a positive attitude towards life. Being outdoors helps to channel their energy in more meaningful ways then sitting down on the couch indoors.
6. Improves Personality Development
Being outdoors encourages children to be more independent and self-reliant. Children are exposed to real-life experiences such as walking, running, exploring which in turn instils confidence and equips them to tackle other life situations. Outdoor play encourages other essential personality traits such as leadership, sportsmanship, and discipline which are the pillars to success.
7. Improves Attention Span
Children focus and concentrate as they explore outdoors. Allowing our children to play outdoors improves their attention spans. As they encounter various situations outside, they are forced to think in new ways and concentrate to make certain decisions.
8. Strengthens Motor Skills
Being outdoors requires children to move and be active. While our children engage in outdoor activities, this helps them achieve better hand-eye coordination, agility, and balance.
9. Appreciation & Gratitude
Who doesn’t love nature? It’s a gift that we take for granted. We should all learn to appreciate the nature that makes what this world is, learning to appreciate simple things such as daily walks, playing outside, being with family and friends is a great life lesson.
10. Healthier and Happier Lifestyle
Having a well-balanced life is key to a healthier and happier life. Children should be spending time indoors and outdoors. Being outdoors opens up new ways for our children to make decisions and navigate through new environments. We should always challenge our children and push their limits (under supervision) to help them become their best.
Precautions for Outdoor Activities
As we have explored the benefits of outdoor activities, it’s also important to note that excess outdoor activity can also result in some negative consequences.
Therefore, parents must monitor time spent outdoors and most importantly, supervise children while they are playing outside. Also ensure that your children are having a good time while they are outdoors. Don’t force them to be out for prolonged periods and always make sure they put on sufficient sunscreen, watch out for the road and cars, and wear helmets/protective gear if they are out riding bikes, scooters, etc.
Mom and Dad, what are you waiting for? Be the inspiration that your child needs. Our children are the best thing that happened to us, let’s ensure we provide the best environment and experience for our kids.
Learn more about toys that empower your child's imagination with outdoor play: Learn More