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Entry No. 8 – The Silent War Against Screens…

As a Houstonian, I sincerely pray that everyone reading this made it through Hurricane Harvey OK. I personally know a few people who lost their homes and/or vehicles, but have still managed to keep their outlook positive and look forward to rebuilding. Seeing the devastation Houston faced was tough….but even more profound, was seeing people come together and help rebuild. Complete strangers uniting, setting aside race, religion, sexual orientation, class, and political woes for a cause greater than themselves. It was amazing to witness such unity, and made me proud to be a Texan. 

Of course, there were slime balls who took advantage of the crisis to cause further harm and destruction, including theft of property (tires, apparel, home possessions, even farm animals!), vandalism, and reckless endangerment of self, family members and/or pets. But overall, the goodness of people prevailed and we live to see another day. That being said…

The debriefing starts now…

I had the opportunity to catch up with an old friend from college, and she brought along her two young children. While we sat on an outdoor patio in Montrose, she let her kids play on their respective iPads. They were quiet and non-engaging, as you can imagine, engrossed in whatever popular color-filled-touch-screen game kids play.

I hadn’t seen her in almost five years, so I appreciated the peaceful time to simply chat. But I couldn’t help glancing over at her children every few seconds to see them completely detached from the world around them. It was a beautiful day outside. And they didn’t care to appreciate any of it. It was then that I realized the silent war against screens was REAL. Adults are already suffering, but our children remain the war’s biggest casualties.

In today’s fast-forward society, resorting to a screen seems like an easy solution. Computers, video games, television, and smartphones have overtaken hours spent playing tag, hide and seek and participating in sporting events.

Children aged 5 – 16 spend an average of six and a half hours a day in front of a screen compared with about three hours of screen time in 1995, according to market research firm Childwise. Children find less desire in physical activity, social interaction and outdoor engagement such as nature walks, gardening, foraging or habitat observation.

Check out this interesting article from Megan Zander of Romper.com, where she did an experiment using her twin toddlers to test the effects of unlimited screen time. Pretty scary stuff.

Perhaps you have children and have fallen into this rut of entertaining your monst–I mean, sweet blessings, with digital stimulation. Or maybe you’re looking to start a family in the near future and want to take preventative steps. Consider following these basic guidelines:

1. Start them EARLY! As soon as your child(ren) are physically capable, get them active. If their earliest memories involve physical activity with their family, it’s more likely they will fall in love with the lifestyle and not see it as a chore.

2.  Walk the Walk! This one is simple. If you want children to value fitness and health, you have to be a living example. You can’t eat garbage everyday and expect them to happily ask for veggies. You can’t lay on the couch the entire weekend and expect them to see the benefits of playing in the sun (or snow). 

3. Make it FUN! I’ve seen quite a few videos online of child prodigies doing some incredible things (have you SEEN that little boy who can mimick Bruce Lee’s infamous nunchuck scene?!). But please understand that this level of dedication and focus isn’t feasible for all children. After all, there are dark sides to parents pushing their children to be a spectacle for the world. Whatever activities you choose, make it fun, lighthearted and engaging. Let your child see how fitness is a lifestyle and not an abstract punishment.

4. Variety is COOL! When I talk about activity, it doesn’t always have to involve running, jumping, throwing or swimming. Be sure to tap into those budding mental blossoms and introduce art/painting, books, sketch work/drawing, puzzles, thinking board games, gardening or recreational building (supervised, of course). A young child isn’t going to know everything he/she likes, so it’s up to YOU to expand their horizons early and watch what amazing talents develop!

That’s my five minutes for the day.

With love, and GAINS.

Today’s Random Nugget: The world’s oldest airline is KLM, established in 1919. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, legally Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij N.V., is the flag carrier airline of the Netherlands. 

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