Parents in 2020 are constantly being pulled in two directions:
- “Technology is a great tool your child can use to learn!”
“This game will keep them entertained for hours!”
“ Just bring the iPad and she will sit quietly”
- “Screens are terrible for your child!”
“Don’t ever give them access to your phone”
“All the digital games and TV shows are rotting their brains!”
I’m not here to tell you to stop giving your kids screen time. In fact, I’m not even here to tell you to fight that battle at all. When you’re at Ella’s gymnastics practice and Sam is throwing a tantrum in the waiting area, the iPad is your savior. I feel you. Instead of constantly stressing about how much time your kids are spending on screens, use this rule of thumb:
Technology is only evil when it’s replacing playtime and movement
Your kids are totally fine using technology for school or during down time. But, if the choice is between watching a show and playing outside with a neighbor, that’s when saying no to screens matters.
Kids are becoming increasingly sedentary, and the signs are obvious. To us youth coaches, this appears when we ask kids who are new to the program to jump, and they cannot land without their knees caving in. Or when we have to teach children how to “bear crawl” on their hands and feet. Such problems were not prevalent 10 or even 5 years ago.
So, I’m not telling you to go Marie Kondo and purge your house of electronics. Not at all. Technology is a huge part of our society and it’s important that kids get exposure to it and use it as the powerful tool that it is. Every kid needs down time, and if that means watching a show after a long day or playing an iPhone game in the car, go for it.
However, just make sure it isn’t replacing movement. Nothing is more important for your child’s development and physical literacy than outdoor free play and especially running, climbing, and jumping. Next time your child reaches for the tablet for “play time”, organize an activity where they’ll be on their feet instead!
I have a giant toolbox full of activities that get kids moving and that they will love. Guaranteed.
Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’d be happy to send it over!