Pleasanton Weekly

- February 21, 2014

Gadgets, great outdoors can coexist

Real world advice to using technology in moderation

Advancements in technology over the last decade have children spending more time with gadgets and gizmos, and less time enjoying the great outdoors. In fact, kids are now using technology up to 10 hours a day, according to the Joan Ganz Cooney Center. But kids' increasing use of technology and opportunities to appreciate Mother Nature do not have to be mutually exclusive.

The importance of outside play

A new National Wildlife Federation (NWF) report shows that kids' media habits can both positively and negatively impact health, and provides real-world advice to help parents serve as positive role models and teach children to use technology in moderation.

"Kids need to be outside all year long, especially in the winter when days are short and we're all a little more cooped up than usual," said Maureen Smith, chief marketing officer for National Wildlife Federation. "In addition to developing a deeper appreciation for the outdoors and the wildlife around them no matter where they live, it helps them burn off energy, stay fit, and be mentally focused for school, homework and all activities in their busy day."

Screen time plus green time

Technology can be a valuable tool to help families balance the lure of screen time with the importance of green time for kids. Today's connected world enables children to experience nature in ways never before imagined.

NWF's report offers families these ideas for combining technology with the outdoors:

1. Rely on technology to plan or inspire outdoor adventures. This can include anything -- from finding great nearby hiking trails to interactive, outdoor treasure hunts.

2. Keep a record of outdoor experiences with the help of electronic photos, videos or an electronic journal. They'll love the ability to share their experiences with family and friends.

3. When safe and practical, take hand-held devices outdoors to combine the best of both worlds (just remember to plan for some fully unplugged time outside, too).

4. Use tools such as Ubooly, an app-based learning toy that can turn a walk in the park into an interactive experience with activities such as scavenger hunts, nature hikes, mindfulness games and plenty of exercise.

For other helpful resources and to learn more about NWF's goal to get 10 million more kids spending regular time in the great outdoors visit www.BeOutThere.org.

Family Features

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