Nature Play WA’s mission is to help get more kids playing outside more often, but we know that isn’t easy in the modern technology-infused world. The Nature Passport app is designed as a tool to help families and schools replace kids’ sedentary screen-time with playing, exploring and learning outdoors. The app is part of a broader strategy to help families find a healthy mix of screen-time and nature play. Nature Play WA recommends a three-pronged approach to healthy technology use:
- Reduce: reducing the time your kids spend on technology, even a little bit, makes a difference
- Replace: use active technologies (like Nature Passport) to replace sedentary technologies wherever possible
- Balance: balance the time kids spend on sedentary technology with an equal, or greater, amount of time in active play outdoors.
Why the Nature Passport app is important
The Nature Passport app:
- leverages kids' love of technology to restore the balance between screen time and green time and help families play, explore and learn outdoors together
- promotes physical and mental health by getting kids and families active outdoors
- fosters children’s natural curiosity, creativity and critical thinking – skills shown to boost academic performance and learning
- encourages family time outdoors, promoting social connection and building fun, family memories
- connects kids and families with nature, inspiring lifelong stewardship behaviors and attitudes
- when using Nature Passport, kids look up not down. The app is designed so that the primary engagement is with the natural world, with the app working as a secondary support
- aims to help nature-starved kids connect to the natural world.
Nature Passport is a free resource that supports parents, caregivers, and teachers in getting kids excited about outdoor play and learning.
Evidence on the importance of balancing green time with screen time can be found at http://www.natureplaywa.org.au/research
Kids and Screens – The Facts
Australian kids spend more than three hours per weekday on digital devices - grows to four hours, or 30% of waking time, on the weekend - https://aifs.gov.au/publications/childrens-screen-time
Screen-time recommendations: no screens for ages 0-2; one hour daily for ages 2-5; 2 hours daily for ages 5-12 - http://healthywa.wa.gov.au/Articles/S_T/Screen-time
Children who spend excessive time watching TV, playing electronic games, using the computer or screens are more likely to have:
- lower cardiovascular fitness
- increased consumption of unhealthy foods
- higher levels of depression
- lower academic achievement
- higher amounts of aggressive behavior
- less time spent with parents and siblings
Less than one in five Aussies kids meet national physical activity guidelines and three out of four exceed screen guidelines. - Active Healthy Kids Australia 2016 Report Card
Australian kids performing worse in skills such as kicking, throwing catching and jumping than they were 30 years ago. In WA over the past 30 years 27,000 primary school-aged children have been assessed, both in terms of their skillfulness and fitness. The findings demonstrated a marked decline in six to 12-year-old children’s general physical fitness and skillfulness - Active Healthy Kids Australia 2016 Report Card
Nature Passport FAQs
How did you come up with the idea for Nature Passport?
Who is Nature Passport for?
Children aged 5-12 – but best-suited for ages 7-10
Parents, caregivers, and educators who value outdoor time but need tools and direction for facilitating enriching experiences.
How big is need for an app like this?
The impact of tech-addicted lives is a global problem affecting hundreds of millions of people. A recent survey of parents in the U.S. commissioned by our partner IslandWood found:
- nearly all parents (98%) say being outdoors and connecting with nature is good for their kids
- 4 in 5 parents (84%) wish their kid(s) spent more time playing and learning outdoors
- nearly three-quarters (73%) of parents say digital entertainment makes getting their kids outdoors harder
- roughly 7 in 10 parents (69%) wish they had better tools and strategies to help them get their kid(s) outdoors more often
What sort of activities are there on the Nature Passport App?
Nature Passport has a large, and growing, suite of outdoor activities including scavenger hunts, micro-hikes, a mud-pie food fight, cubby building, and bug hunts. Users collect badges, do team activities, and record pictures, notes, and audio from their adventures in a digital journal.
The app also has a safari feature that allows users to record animals and species, have them identified by naturalists, and added to one of the world’s largest citizen science projects (iNaturalist).
What about people living in urban environments? Will they be able to use this app?
Absolutely. The app encourages and motivates children to have fun engaging with their environment wherever that may be –from backyards and city parks and neighborhoods, to beaches and other wild places. You can filter content by the type of environment, season and content provider
Why did Nature Play partner with IslandWood?
Our two organizations bring complementary skillsets to Nature Passport. IslandWood brings expertise in culturally responsive, place-based, experiential education. Nature Play brings proven advocacy experience and a track record of successfully getting kids and families playing outdoors. By working together, we are breaking down the barrier between outdoor play and learning, delivering an app with playful learning and meaningful play.
What are the benefits to the international partnership?
There are many advantages to collaborating internationally:
- this is a global issue which can benefit from a global solution
- in the nonprofit sector, collaboration is one way organizations can achieve a greater impact with limited resources. Both of our organizations were eager to expand our reach and impact, including internationally
- we’ve shown how an international collaboration can work and hope that it can serve as a model as we continue to expand the platform
- we believe families in Australia and the US will be excited by the international aspect of this app
Want some great ideas for helping balance screentime with greentime? Check out our newest resource - Reduce, Replace, Balance!