Nature Canada

Turning away from screens and getting outside

The weather is cooling down to a shiver and the shorts are going back in the closet. This might signal many to give up on the outdoor games, boil a cup of tea and turn on our digital screens for some quiet time in the warm indoors. This, however, may prove to be a dangerous pitfall, especially for the kids. Many kids these days end up spending up to 7 hours a day on their electronic devices and favouring that lifestyle may leave out many important activities vital for their growth and development. Things like physical activity, face-to-face social interaction and even sleep get pushed to the wayside in favour of the new trend of digital screens.

The consequences of this lifestyle include physiological health problems, deteriorating mental health, and even poor eyesight from lack of time in the sun. Individually they may already seem problematic, but imagine your child growing up while fighting these issues on all fronts- it certainly isn’t a recipe for a fun time.

But what is? How do we keep our kids from retreating into the shell of technology? There are in fact many simple ways:

  • Leading by example and limiting your own screen-time in front of the kids
  • Set time limits on screen-time, as well as “screen-free” zones around the house
  • Encourage outdoor playtime or other non-screen activities

Encourage time spent together as a family.

One important resource that can marry many of those methods together is right outside your doorstep- nature! Many different physical activities can still be done outside before the snowfalls. Nature can be appreciated as a family, as well as with friends. Spending time between the trees also promotes creativity, empathy, and a love for our planet. There are many possibilities:

  • Set up a bird feeder outside the house and watch the birds come,
  • Collect fall leaves and pine cones for crafts,
  • Discover local nature trails and discover their evolution throughout the season,
  • Join a nature club- check out Nature Canada’s NatureHood Partners,
  • Use NatureHood’s DIY NatureBlitz Toolkit to identify species close to home, or
  • Older kids can plan a scavenger hunt, join a geocaching group, enroll in outdoor education, volunteer with a nature organization, or submit nature photos to contest outlets!

Autumn may not be the warmest season of the year, but many will argue that it is the prettiest. So pull on a coat, keep that warm drink in hand, and take a step outside, and into the wonderland of reds, oranges, and yellows!

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