The transition from the screen to outdoor games

20 October, 2018

The transition from the screen to outdoor games For several years, we have been talking openly about the benefits of physical activity and outdoor play. In our schools, additional hours have been added to the calendar to allow children to move and experience certain motor activities. In our "flexible" classes, we encourage alternative methods that allow children to move as they learn. However, the work doesn't stop there! When one wonders about the subject, it is interesting to note that the use of screens quickly replaces outdoor games. Many people tell me during our meetings that their children do not like to "play" outside and that screens (tablet, cell phone, television, computer) take a considerable place in their lives. The mere fact of prohibiting the use of a screen leads to a crisis. So I wondered about the impact that screens had on my childhood life. So I remembered that at the age of 7, I received my first Nintendo console for Christmas; I also remember the extreme joy felt at that moment. I liked to have fun with Dr. Mario on the console and I could spend several hours trying to "beat" my records and face my brother in a duel. My parents even had to set up a definite time for using the Nintendo, because my brother and I would certainly have spent a lot more time having fun inside the house. However, when my parents said, " Everybody out! », it was a good thing that we put on our clothes and left our console. For me, it wasn't just going outside to watch the turf grow, but it was time to use my creativity and invent a multitude of games (the hiding place, the tag, boot the cacane, the Indians against the cowboys and all the games that we could invent with branches or pebbles). When I thought about it, I had to spend more time outside the house than i.m. when I was inside: good weather, bad weather... As long as I'm home for Passe-Partout. The children from the neighborhood came home to have fun with us and we could leave just before the darkness or when our parents were shouting our name, if the parents were not already outside too! Thinking about it, screens were not a reward for me, or even a point of contention when I was acting badly. In fact, it was to stay inside the house which was probably the greatest consequence. Years pass and social pressure is increasing. Today, when I speak to some parents, they inform me that the only consequence that works with their child is to cut off access to screens. When I do my grocery shopping, many children have their noses riveted on their cell phones... and what about, "At least he's calm!" ... Yes! perhaps, but is this really what the child needs at this particular time of day? We could question a multitude of things: is it really that the child cannot part with his screen or is it because he is so absorbed by the images and movements on the screen that he cannot get rid of it? In my work with preschool children 4 years old, I see a different vision of screens vs. outdoor games. Every day, the children ask me the same questions when they arrive at school: " Are we going to play outside today? These kids probably like to go outside and play, but why doesn't that seem to be the same reality at home? I will not give a quick fix today. However, I would like to open up a question about the "extraordinary" use of screens in children. In fact, could it be that we assume that our children don't like playing outside? In fact, children who don't enjoy it at outdoor games are usually the ones who don't know what to do there. Yet children are the "specialists" of imagination and role-playing. So why is it a burden to take out the sunglasses and take a breath of fresh air? When I was a child, I remember playing with my parents outside the house. However, when I look at the current reality, I sometimes see something else! Fewer seem to be families who share pleasant moments outside the home and this at the expense of screens. In talking to some of the parents around me, time and energy seem to be one of the reasons for the decline in physical activity. The situation is quite simple though: having fun with your family ... « According to Canadian physical activity guidelines: A school-aged child should perform approximately 60 minutes of moderate to high intensity physical activity each day. »   Some suggestions for activities:
  • Walking to the convenience store or school
  • Take a walk with the dog;
  • Give our children household chores: for example, emptying the dishwasher, carrying garbage bags outside, helping to pick up the leaves independently and even helping to clear snow from the house in the winter;
  • Using the cell phone to promote physical activity... Apps like Pokemon Go Yes Geocaching Get out of the house with the kids and participate in physical activities together
  • Use apps: Just Dance Now or Wixx for even more ideas.
Although we sometimes lack ideas or time is a source of stress, physical activity is not so rocket science. Then... What's going on with our children?