Available Now
MetroKids
Bookmark and Share Email this page Email Print this page Print Edit Module
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:
Edit Module
Advertisement
Edit Module

About This Blog

Outstanding Delaware Valley mom and dad 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
Chris Bernholdt, DadNCharge
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
Mara Gorman, The Mother of All Trips
Stephanie Glover, A Grande Life
Erin Flynn Jay, Mastering the Mommy Track
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
Kathryn M. Martin, Mamacado
Jeanne McCullough, Mom Hearts Pinot
Trina O'Boyle, O’Boy! Organic
Kelly Raudenbush, My Overthinking
Lindsey Schuster, Sisters to Sons
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 parenting blogger and would like to contribute to MomSpeak, please e-mail editor@metrokids.com.

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More on this topic »Mom Matters

Mothers' Influence on Local Celebs

Mothers' Influence on Local Celebs

How did the way their moms raised these local celebs help them achieve their goals?

5 Ways for Busy Moms to De-Stress

5 Ways for Busy Moms to De-Stress

Life gets crazy, but time for yourself is crucial. Try these stress-relief tips!

Coloring Books Aren't Just for Kids Anymore!

Coloring Books Aren't Just for Kids Anymore!

Adults relieve stress and recapture their childhood through coloring books geared toward the grown-up crowd.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More on this topic »Mom's Health

Secondary Infertility

Secondary Infertility

Learn about the causes of and treatments for secondary infertility and tips on how to cope.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

MK Memo

MK Memo: Moms Know
Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest

Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest

Enjoy outdoor activities, great food and spectacular riverfront views at the Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest through Labor Day.

Comments

'Titus' at the Painted Bride Art Center

'Titus' at the Painted Bride Art Center

See "Titus" at the Painted Bridge Art Center in Philly May 19-22.

Comments

How to Choose the Right Dance Class for Your Child

How to Choose the Right Dance Class for Your Child

Tips from a long-time dance instructor on what to look for in a dance program for your child.

Comments: 1

How to Raise an Earth-Conscious Child

How to Raise an Earth-Conscious Child

Tips to teach kids how to protect the environment.

Comments

DIY Redecorating in Vintage or Rustic Style

DIY Redecorating in Vintage or Rustic Style

Get some tips on redecorating your home with a vintage or rustic style.

Comments

Edit ModuleShow Tags
{/if}