As my boys reach their teen years, it seems to be a constant battle keeping them off their phones and video games. With all the extra hours at home this summer, getting them off the couch isn’t as easy as it used to be!
It is recommended that kids get at least 60 minutes of vigorous play each day to stay healthy. Regular exercise in nature is proven to improve children’s physical and mental health. Outdoor activity helps kids maintain a healthy weight, boosts immunity and bone loss, lowers stress and improves self-esteem. It is also recommended that screen time be limited to less than 2 hours a day. That’s TV, video game, computer, phone and iPad total time less than 2 hours/day! I don’t know about you, but I find that to be nearly impossible.
So, what about creating ways to be physically active with screen time? Pokémon Go had the right idea and got my kids up and walking around, but they outgrew that game. Here are some other ideas I have used with my boys…
· When watching morning cartoons or an afternoon movie on a rainy day, see how many push-ups you can do or how long you can hold a plank at the commercial breaks. Make it a contest between you and your kids!
· Allow them to create a private (only those you share the video with can see it) You Tube channel where they can create and post videos of themselves doing something active. My boys will make a highlight video of themselves doing tricks on our trampoline, or dunking on the basketball hoop, or doing skateboarding tricks and set them to music. They turn out pretty impressive!
· Play a game on your phone together. We like Heads Up where you hold the phone on your forehead and try to get your partner to say the words that pop up on the screen. Even though it’s a talking game, we are always up jumping around acting out the word!
· We still have a blast playing Wii sports together. Whether it be baseball, tennis or golf, the competitions get pretty intense. And, they get a good laugh out of how bad I am. Just Dance or Outdoor Challenge are other fun active video games.
Of course, the goal is always getting outside with my kids hiking, biking, kayaking or just a good old game of one-on-one in the driveway. Sometimes you have to pick your battles, and if getting them active with screen time is the best I can do some days, I’ll take it!
Amy Goebbert, PT, DPT
Co-owner & Physical Therapist - TheraCORE, Inc.