‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.’ Play for today’s generation mostly means spending time on electronic gadgets, say mobile phones, tablets, or play stations.
Kids are so addicted to phones these days that they even need to see some videos on the phone/ tablet while eating as well otherwise they refuse to eat properly and this is not good for their health, both physically and mentally.
There was a time when the kids were literally forced to stay back home and now the parents forced their kids to go outside to play with actual humans.
Time changes drastically. With the technology boom and virtual reality in place, kids have become lazy and even their immunity has decreased because all they do is sit in front of the screens whether it’s for studying or playing games, or watching some cartoon. They don’t go outside and so there’s not much physical activity for them.
In the current situation, especially during covid, kids hardly go outside, even their classes are held online. Earlier at least they had a sports period where they had to spend at least 40 mins for some of the other outdoor activities.
Parents should surely make sure that their kids if not go outside then at least they should play on the terrace. This is beneficial for their both mental and physical development.
Benefits of outdoor activities for kids are:
Physical health benefits:
Kids that go for outdoor activities are more fit, both physically and mentally.
The outdoor activities avoid the obesity to spring up and also avoid heart ailments later on in their life. The immunity system is also strong if the kids spend an hour for outdoor activities and the frequency of them getting ill is less.
Hence they will intake fewer medicines and so a better system overall. The kids are more active, they will feel more hungry and will intake proper diet and will not just intake junk food.
Since they will be tired at the end of the day and so they will sleep on time and will wake on time.
So basically the kids will have a stronger immune system, proper sleep cycle, and proper diet if they spend an hour daily performing some outdoor physical activity, even the basic games like hiding and seek or ice water.
Mental health benefits:
Studies show that these days the children get paranoid if there is a power cut in their place because then they’ll not be able to access the television and other electronic gadgets because they don’t know that there is life outside the electronic gadget.
That one can play with others and one can play outside with other kids as well. That electronic gadgets are not the only source for playing.
Makes them competitive positively:
Playing with others helps the kids to develop self-confidence and self-esteem. We see a lot of kids these days suffering from social anxiety and lack self-confidence when they are around others because they hardly interact with other kids.
Playing outside helps the kids boost up their confidence and build up competency skills which make them determined in anything they do in life.
Learning to work in groups:
Outdoor activities where there are teams involved help the kids to work in groups. They learn to adjust to other kids of different mindsets, coming from different families, values, and cultures.
It is best when the kids get involved in group activities in early childhood. This helps them to grow both personally and professionally.
Sense of Freedom:
Playing with other kids gives them a sense of freedom. A feeling that they exist and they have a say on something, be it deciding whether or not it’s a foul while playing.
This inculcates the sense of deciding and making a choice on their own and making them independent. The kids are more enthusiastic, energetic, and discover themselves.
Discovering their career:
Kids if getting involved in outdoor activities since early childhood discover themselves. Many of them decide to make the sport they play for fun their career opportunity.
Any successful sports person we speak of, say it, Sachin Tendulkar or Cristiano Ronaldo, started getting involved in their respective sport from an early age and we do not need to say how well they are recognized in their respective sport.
Developing Social Skills:
These days mostly the kids are single-child and so if not getting involved in outdoor activities with other kids mostly develops social anxiety in them.
They are mostly introverts, not that being introverted is a bad thing but one should be able to at least take a stand for themselves in public.
Getting involved in outdoor activities with other kids helps you to develop social skills. The kids develop leadership skills and get to develop coping skills, among others.
They develop long-lasting friendships and bonding among other children while playing together.
Must read for parents: Benefits of Playing with Toys
Importance in all weather conditions:
Kids playing in all weather conditions provide invaluable experiences to them that no virtual reality game cannot provide.
There are different benefits of children playing outside in different weather conditions.
For example, during winter, when the child goes outside to play they know they should wear a jacket that is handy and which can be easily removed instead of a cardigan, or during the summer season that they should weather cotton fabric to keep them cool while playing.
This inculcates in them how they should dress appropriately as per the weather conditions.
Reduces the risk of deficiency of vitamin-D:
Studies show that Vitamin D deficiency in children aged 6 to 12 years is very common. Sunlight is the natural source of vitamin D and playing outside in the sunshine during winters is the best opportunity that one can grab.
Learning to appreciate nature:
Last but not the least, with the increase in modernization and urbanization, the kids are getting apart from nature. We hardly get to see a green cover apart from parks if we speak of cities and even towns.
You get to see buildings and everything concrete around these days. Outdoor activities like trekking and camping will help children get close to nature and appreciate nature.
They’ll get the sense of preserving and conserving nature while there’s still time.
The above are a few benefits of outdoor activities for kids and students. Having discussed the importance of outdoor activities, kids these days are adamant and lazy to step outside to play. They are screen-bound all the time. It’s prime time that parents need to have some tips to ensure that their children step outside to play.
Tips to make children step outside to play:
- Organize playdate: Parents can organize a playdate in parks with greenery and swings or even a lake around, inviting other kids. This will help the kids bond with each other and enjoy nature. Organizing a picnic can be another way to bond with your kid.
- Screen timers: Set a timer for screens, i.e. basically all the electronic gadgets. Setting a limit for screens is very important for their health. This also helps in reducing social anxiety.
- Planting: Make your kid plant trees. Ask them to water them regularly. This will bring them close to nature and appreciate nature’s beauty.
- Assign tasks: You can assign various outdoor tasks to your kids like giving them a jar and asking them to catch flies in it. This will increase their activeness and alertness.
- Outing on a beach: Parents can visit a beach with their kids. The kids can make a sandcastle while the parents can read a book or do some other things they love. This is both good for the kid and parents. This also helps in bonding with their kids and getting to know their kids better. Building a sandcastle increases creativity in the kids. They also learn some important life lessons like nothing permanent and they should prepare one for any situation that comes up.
- Go on a holiday: Studies show that going on a holiday is great for mental health. Parents should plan for a holiday that’s more close to nature. These days everything is concrete and man-made and kids are getting lost in it. They are far from nature at all and so do not know the importance of it. Hardly one can see stars in a clear night sky. Going on a holiday for some camping and trekking will bring the kids close to nature and will make them appreciate the little things that nature has bestowed upon us.
- Swimming: Swimming is a great way to exercise and I do feel that everyone should know basic swimming. Swimming is one of the best outdoor activities we can enroll the kids in during early childhood i.e by 7-8 years of age.
- Gear up: Parents can tempt their kids by providing amazing outdoor toys like a trampoline or roller skates that will make them leave the screens and spend time in outdoor activities as well.
- Introduce your childhood to them: Parents should share what they did in their childhood with their kids. Simple games like ‘hike and seek’ or ‘fire in the mountain’ can bring such good happiness to them. There are so many games that the kids these days are not even aware of. The parents should introduce those games to their kids.
- Treasure Hunt: This is quite trendy these days. Parents can organize a treasure hunt by providing them with riddles and puzzles in different locations. This is the best way to go geocaching. This also increases the alertness and smartness of a kid.
Making kids go for an outdoor activity is the need for the hour. There are a lot of benefits for the same as discussed in the article. The parents should slowly engulf the habit of going outside and play or perform any creative outdoor activity so that the children take out time from their screen time and come close to nature, the real world, and most importantly, themselves.