Screen Time Versus Outdoor Time

This past week I spent 3 days in the Cascade’s mountain wilderness backpacking with my 3 grandkids and their dad.  It is a yearly tradition we started when the oldest child was 4 and the second child 2; they are now 8, 6 and we also brought along their 3 year old baby sister.  We hiked 6 miles in and out, carrying the 3 year old in a back pack the majority of the time.  When we arrived at our destination, Basin Lake, the kids immediately ran to the lake and couldn’t wait to swim and fish.  We had to cajole them into some lunch and eventually to set up camp.  Throughout our trip, I was remarkably impressed that these millennium children did not once as for an electronic game, cell phone, iPad, movie or TV show.  They ran, swam and fished, hiked, played made up games and told stories around the campfire.  My oldest granddaughter even remarked that her imagination works better in the outdoors!

Coincidentally, as I was driving to work the next day, I listened to a special on NPR regarding children and “screen time”.  It was not surprising to learn that a study published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, found that sixth-graders who went five days without exposure to technology were significantly better at reading human emotions than kids who had regular access to phones, televisions and computers. Other research suggest that too much screen time can have lots of can have lots of negative effects on kids, ranging from childhood obesity and irregular sleep patterns to social and/or behavioral issues

The broadcast went on to say that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend limiting “screen time entertainment to two hour a day for children between the ages of 3-18 and none at all for children under two.  The San Francisco non-profit, Common Sense Media added “If used appropriately, it’s wonderful.  We don’t want to demonize media, because its going to be part of everyone’s lives increasingly, and we have to teach children how to make good choices around it, how to limit and how to make sure it’s not going to take the place of all other good stuff out there.”  I couldn’t agree more!

By the way, it didn’t hurt me one bit to be “off the grid” myself for a few days.