More than ever before, parents have to encourage, coax or even force their children to get outside and play. Kids spend more time inside because of school, homework, working parents and other factors dictating their schedules, but when they have free time, how do they spend it?
Author Richard Louv coined the phrase "nature deficit disorder," describing the younger generation's disconnect with nature. How often do you see kids playing in the woods, building forts or rolling down grassy hills? A University of Michigan 2004 study said kids play outside two hours less a week than two decades ago, choosing instead to spend the extra time watching TV, on the computer, reading or just doing nothing.
Technology isn't exactly great for our health either. In 2004, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention said childhood obesity had tripled since 1980 in the U.S.A. One of the most technologically advanced countries also has one of the highest shares of obese people in the world -- not a correlation of which to be proud.
However, parents can manage their kids' "inside" time much like their screen time. Schedule outdoor time, and stick to it. If it's pretty, get them outside. And from time to time, go with them for a bike ride or a walk. Sending your kids outside while you sit inside and text or send e-mails just "sends" the wrong message.