While technology can enhance literacy and other positive traits in kids, too much physically idle time can lead to poor habits that can transfer into their adult lives, including poor social skills and obesity.
Motivating kids to unglue their faces from their screens -- TV, computer, video games, or cell phone -- can seem like a daunting task at times. Still, regular activity is important, as it promotes not just physical, but mental and emotional health as well.
Here are some tips to get your kids offline and active:
- Place limits: Limiting a kid's time on the computer, video games, and cell phones will open up time for activity. It also makes him or her use that limited digital time wisely.
- Get involved: You're a role model to them, so lead by example. Trying activities you liked as a kid is also a good way for them to learn more about you.
- Cut out distractions: If it's time for activity, eliminate things that might get in the way. Switch off cell phones, computers, or anything else that might take the attention off the present activity. This goes for parents, too.
- Make it a game: It doesn't have to be exercise. If your kids find video games challenging, find something equally challenging for their brain. For example, take your child to an indoor rock-climbing wall and have them plan their route before they start.
- Bring their friends: The more the merrier, especially with exercise. Organizing pick-up games, making birthdays active, and other events that involve your children, their friends, and exercise will yield positive results.
- Don't force one activity: The more you force activity on your children, the less likely they are willingly to participate. Just because they may not be interested in joining team sports or taking classes doesn't mean they don't want to be active. Try all sorts of different activities and see which they like. The key is making the activity enjoyable so they'll stick with it.
- Make everything active: If getting them to unplug the video games is a difficult task, try using systems like Wii or X-Box Kinect that involve movement over traditional controllers.
- Be assertive: You're the adult in the situation, so while you might have to force more than you'd like, you know your child's health is the most important thing.
Remember it is important to start small because you're breaking a habit. Too much pushing too quickly could turn your children off to activity completely.
Most importantly, have fun. You're creating lasting memories.