I’ve come across some shocking statistics recently.
The first, as quoted in an article on Snowbrains, cites a study on indoor air pollutants that found average Americans are outdoors only about 7% of the time. A full 87% is spent indoors, with an additional 6% spent in cars.
When you work this out in days, it turns out that most Americans, children and adults, are outside only one-half of one day per week. The article’s suggestion? Try to spend an extra five minutes outside each day. Yep, five minutes.
The next statistic comes from a documentary produced by Whistler Blackcomb called The Tech Trap. A discussion of the challenges parents face getting their kids to go outside, it leads with this from The Guardian: 75% of children in the UK spend less time outdoors than prison inmates.
While one might guess that this is because of the sometimes inclement UK climate, I don’t think so.
And neither does Whistler Blackcomb.
Speaking Only From My Experience
As a mom with nearly grown teenage sons, I look back at their early childhood and I’m grateful at how few technological temptations we faced. Our boys were born in the late 1990s, and the first iPod Touch arrive in our home when our youngest son was 9 years old (and I’m embarrassed to say that it was the result of a parental bribe).
Within what seems like the quickest blink of an eye, this iPod morphed into four iPhones, one for each member of our family. And they’ve been our constant companions ever since.
I won’t speak for my sons, but I can say from my own personal experience, having computers in my pocket and purse is not good for me. Yes, the technology is a marvel, and yes, the convenience is fantastic.
But what the phone and iPad do best is disconnect me from whatever is happening around me. My son is talking to me, I’m looking at Instagram. Do I hear a word he says? Sort of. Can I recall the conversation five minutes later? No way.
What’s a Parent to Do?
Since you’re reading this, I’m going to bet that you get your children outdoors, skiing, hiking, biking or simply to swing in the sunshine. I’m sure you have experience and opinions about this topic, and I want to hear them. I think other parents do, too.
Here are some questions to get the conversation started.
*Do you agree with the arguments put forth in The Tech Trap?
*Are you concerned about how much time your kids spend with screens versus being outdoors?
*Do you have suggestions for other parents?
My One Big Tip
As for me, I’ve got just one big suggestion: lead by example.
It’s really hard to criticize your kids for reading articles online, scrolling through social media or playing games on their phones when you’re doing the same. It’s also hard to make them go outside, if you’re not willing to go out yourself.
If you are concerned about how much time you and your family spend indoors, schedule time outdoors. Put it on the calendar and make it happen.
It’s a big world out there, full of adventure and excitement, and it all starts the moment you step through your front door and feel that first rush of fresh air.
Please share your feelings and comments.
The Tech Trap is one of a series of documentaries produced by Whistler Blackcomb for the 2016-2017 ski season. Each one tackles a big topic, like climate change and the impact of skiers and snowboarders, pushing boundaries into the backcountry and the future of snowsports. Additional videos will be released throughout the season. You can find them at The Big Picture.
More on Technology, Parenting and Getting Outside
- Get Connected. No App Required. September 6, 2016.
- A Brave Ski Dad’s Vow: Every Ski Day is a Great Day, November 10, 2014.
- The Summer Vacation Technology Contract Every Family Needs, June 20, 2016.
- Mi Familia: Unplugged. June 30, 2014.
- Parenting Teens: Off the Couch and Into the Outdoors, July 8, 2013.
- No Regret Parenting, September 9, 2013.
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