Excessive screen time is a significant detriment to children’s health, and has been linked to lower physical activity rates, and higher rates of depression and diabetes, consumption of unhealthy foods, lower cardiovascular fitness, lower academic achievement and reductions in time spent with family (see Research information below).
While the correlation between excessive screen and reduced health is broadly understood in the community, modern families continue to struggle with effectively managing screen time.
The predominant advice provided for parents on screen-time is, at its heart, prohibitionist – ‘just say no to technology”. This approach has not worked and device ownership and screen use rates continue to rise among WA children.
Modern children have grown up in a technological age and asking them to abstain from using that technology is tantamount to asking them to opt out of the culture they were born into, of which they are a part. This is, we believe, an unrealistic, if not unfair, request.
NATURE PLAY WA’S POSITION
At Nature Play WA we believe WA families will benefit from more balanced advice than the “just say no” norm.
Our approach begins from these core- premises:
- Some level of screen time is a given for modern children, and it is not going away
- “Just say no to technology” is an ineffective call to action
- Screen time is not, in itself, dangerous/negative
- The primary dangers of screen time are that it can lead to:
- excessive sedentary (sitting) time
- the displacement of positive behaviors/opportunities
- Technology can be an ally for health
- Parents are looking for practical advice
The advice we propose has three strategies: REDUCE, REPLACE and BALANCE
Work with your kids to reduce screen time (yours and theirs). Even a little bit helps.
- Set screen rules
- Designate non-screen time
- Avoid having screens in bedrooms
- Parents should model screen discipline
Find technologies that are fun and active to replace sedentary technologies.
- Nature Passport (mobile app Apple, Android)
- Pokemon Go (Mobile app: Apple and Android)
- Geocaching (Mobile app: Apple and Android)
- Wii fit U (Wii U)
- Just Dance (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii)
- Shape up (Xbox One)
Balance sedentary screen time with equal or greater green time (active, and or, imaginative outdoor play).
If your kid loves Minecraft, that’s OK, but the more you let them play computer games, the more time you’ll need to find to balance the ledger with outdoor play.
- Playing with friends at the park
- Throwing, or kicking a ball, with a parent
- Walking the dog
- Making cubbies in the backyard
We've put together a comprehensive list of the research that backs our mission and our work. Read the scientific studies supporting our efforts to get kids outside in unstructured play more often...
Want some more tips on getting the balance of screen time and green time right? Here's a selection of Nature Play WA programs and information from our partners, supporters and friends to get you started...
Nature Play WA Resources:
Nature Passport Outdoor 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).
Download for iPhone
Nature Play WA App
• Discover interactive trails in Western Australia that let you learn more about nature, history, and Aboriginal culture as you walk
• Keep track of upcoming Nature Play WA Events
• Find nature play areas and parks near you
• Access more than 200 outdoor activity ideas for kids aged 3-12 through the Nature Play WA Passport to an Amazing Childhood
• Discover the benefits of Nature Play WA membership and access discounted outdoor experiences and gear
Our Partners and Friends:
Sport and Recreation WA Recreation Camps - discover outdoor recreation opportunities through day and overnight camps
Explore Parks WA - your one stop shop to discover national and regional parks, places to stay, walk trail and what's on
Geocaching Australia - Join the GPS treasure hunt that's popular the world over!