Available Now
MetroKids
Bookmark and Share Email this page Email Print this page Print
Jan 11, 2013
06:00 AM
MomSpeak

Kids must rediscover nature in this age of technology

Kids must rediscover nature in this age of technology

Yesterday, my mother shared a scary statistic with me. The average American child spends five to seven hours in front of a screen throughout the day. At least three of those hours are spent in front of the television.
 

Are parents really allowing this? I thought of my own kids, who I will admit, do watch cartoons almost every day. They probably watch one hour of television on a weekday and up to two hours on a Saturday or Sunday. Some weekends the kids don't watch a thing as we're out and about attending events for the blog, exploring and staying busy in general. We're not a sitting still type of family.
 

Screen addiction

I'm scared for American children. They're addicted to screens of all kinds. A few months ago, our special needs son was obsessively grabbing my phone to play games and we quickly ended that before it became part of his expected routine. Now we've limited computer time (which includes phone or computer games) to one hour on the weekend per child and this hour must be earned throughout the week through completed chores and kindness points. Our oldest daughter is still not allowed to have a Nintendo DS despite her begging for one the last two Christmas seasons.

As busy and often exhausted parents, we're big fans of afternoon quiet time (read a book or play in your room). We have a slew of kiddie board games. Pandora is literally our favorite thing ever. We play music constantly — opera, indie pop, children's stations, The Beatles. I'm partial to David Bowie & Queen and the kids feed off of that energy — music encourages them to sing and dance.

A transformative climb

The most frightening thing about the state of many American children and their parents is that it seems they've forgotten there are forests out there, natural places where one can run, jump, imagine, explore and hide.

I remember vividly the view from the top of Mount Katahdin in Maine after my 16th birthday. I'd fought with my mother the whole way to the top. I did not want to climb that stupid mountain. I guess I figured that if I irritated her enough, she'd give up and turn back. Nope. Not my mother. She did threaten to leave me a few times so she could finish the climb without me.

When we finally reached the top, I was a child transformed. This huge green expanse spread out down below, a basin dotted with enchanted blue lakes and I felt like I'd never seen Earth before that moment. Nature is immeasurably powerful. Introduce a child to nature and you've given them a timeless, life-changing gift.

...it seems they've forgotten there are forests out there, natural places where one can run, jump, imagine, explore and hide.

My mother was never one to stick me in front of a screen, either. We were always outside. Swimming. Birding. Canoeing. Hiking. Backpacking in Maine, Vermont and through Canada.
She made us carry and draw in sketchbooks on all our trips. But families don't have to travel to Canada to find trees and open space. All you have to do is look up a local state park. State parks are great places to find trails. Kids can help plant flower and vegetable gardens in their own yards, which will encourage them to connect with and take care of growing things while building a family food supply.

A natural attraction

Kids are naturally attracted to nature. They just have to be encouraged. We're failing as parents if we're not looking to the natural environment for help. Nature teaches responsibility, nurturing and life truths like life and death. Why are we, as a society, so intent on separating ourselves from the Earth and gluing our eyes to a phone or a computer?

Winter is a wonderful time to explore the outside. Animal tracks are visible in the snow, birds are easily spotted and there are many types of plants and animals still flourishing. Take your children outside — please. Leave the phones and games at home. Follow a bug as it travels the ground toward its destination. Seek out a trail and challenge your children to stay quiet as you all listen and look. Find a lonely beach and search for shells and rocks. In this age of hyper technology, we have to ground ourselves again. Look to nature and teach your kids to do the same. As parents, this is our responsibility.

EJ Curran is a Delaware mom. This post was adapted from her blog, Four Little Monsters.

Add your comment:
Advertisement

About This Blog

Outstanding Delaware Valley mom bloggers share insights about their kids or themselves, family experiences or ways they handled parenting situations. Their items — often reposted from their blogs — reflect everyday experiences that anyone can relate to rather than political viewpoints or belief systems.

MomSpeak Contributors

Trish Adkins, Yoke
Jennifer Auer, Jersey Family Fun
Stacy Heenan Biscardi, Wifty & Shifty
Hillary Chybinski, My Scraps
EJ Curran, Four Little Monsters
Darla DeMorrow, The Pregnant Entrepreneur
Rachée Fagg, Say It Rah-Shay
Raya Fagg, And Starring As Herself…MRSRFKJ
Erin Flynn Jay, Mastering the Mommy Track
Marion Kase, Helicopter-Caterpillar
Jean Ladden, Jean's Book Reviews
Brie Latini, ( . . . a breezy life)
Toni Langdon, Tickles and Time Outs
Lisa Lightner, A Day in Our Shoes
Jeanine Ludwikowski, Mommy Entourage
Jeanne McCullough, Mom Hearts Pinot
Trina O'Boyle, O’Boy! Organic
Kelly Raudenbush, My Overthinking
Sandra Telep, West Philly Mama
Marissa Kiepert Truong, Land of Once Upon a Time
Lisa Weinstein, The Mixed Up Brains of Lisa Weinstein
Shivaun Williams, Dar Liomsa (In My Opinion)
Paige Wolf, Spit That Out!

If you are a Philadelphia-area mom blogger and would like to contribute to MomSpeak, please e-mail editor@metrokids.com.

 

More on this topic »Mom Matters

Stop judging other moms

Stop judging other moms

How not to let different parenting styles ruin friendships

More on this topic »Mom's Health

Maternity Leave: A Timeline

How to prepare for as much maternity leave as you're entitled to, so you can devote all your time off to your newborn, not your job

MK Memo

MK Memo: Moms Know
How to Apply for and Win College Scholarships

How to Apply for and Win College Scholarships

8 steps to securing scholarships for college

Comments

Promoting Self-Confidence in Kids

Promoting Self-Confidence in Kids

Promote self-confidence in kids in three easy steps.

Comments

Mom & Kids' Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

Mom & Kids' Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardian of the Galaxy reviews by a mom, teen and tween (mild spoilers)

Comments

August 2014 Preview

August 2014 Preview

Preview of MK's August 2014 issue, which includes an extensive back-to-school package, and a bit about National Breastfeeding Month

Comments

Raising Charitable Children

Raising Charitable Children

Everyday opportunities for parents to teach charity and kindness to children

Comments