7 Tips for balancing screen time

You guys know that we are huge supporters of introducing technology to children, in the current world I think it’s an epic fail to make tech the enemy, it’s crucial to all that we do, and as our children grow up there is no point in them seeing something that will support the way they bank, the way they drive and the way that they live every day life as a bad thing. That being said, we are also big believers in getting children out and about, into nature and getting messy!

We live in rural North Yorkshire, my fondest memories as a child are going on magical woodland walks where every tree stump was a troll and there was a witch that needed conquering with whatever oversized twig I had crafted into a wand with a few leaves and blades of grass. The dogs would be my valiant knights as I went on an adventure and it was a great way to get outside and get some fresh air – it’s something that I still love as an adult, playing outside in the woods or taking the dogs for a walk with the kids. We also send out children to forest school where they are actively encouraged to get out and about and have an afternoon once a week learning in the outdoor classroom, I’ve written about Forest schooling in a bit more detail here.

According to a new study conducted by Persil amongst parents in the UK, children of Reuben’s age, 7, will have spent approximately 2 years and 3 months of their lives staring at a screen. Whilst I don’t see this as a terrible thing if combined with a balance of play, I do think that it’s sad that parents have reported that their children spend twice the amount of time playing on screens than they do playing outside – we need to embrace technology, but not at the cost of losing our outdoor play time and love for nature.

As a mother I want a balance between playtime outside and playtime inside, I see the wonderful aspects of both, and like 79% of parents in the study, I find screens convenient – Edith is using her’s right now, and again, like 66% of parents I fret that this will damage her social skills and ability to problem solve (especially when it comes to entertaining herself – something Toby is horrendous at).

Two thirds of us are having the same worries that our children don’t play outside and we are looking for solutions, but what are they?

Well, Persil have collaborated on a number of initiatives to help give us a kick start to those practical solutions to getting children outside, from supporting Outdoor Classroom day (1st Nov) where in 2017 2.3 million kids over the world got involved and went to do some learning outside – just like the boys do at school every Friday. We forget what a privilege that is when it happens so frequently for us, but inner city schools might not have the option of nipping to the forest that literally envelopes the school our kids are at and most of the local village schools in our area. You can find out more about Outdoor Classroom Day here if you would like – but you can make your own quite simply with a mud kitchen and a few hours in our own garden. Making mudpies in the mud kitchen, like ours in the pictures, brewing “perfume” using petals from the flowers and water, painting on stones, using chalk to draw on the ground – all of these things are simple, easy ways to get outside. I’m someone who hates being out in the rain, but sometimes it really is great for the children, bundle them up in their waterproofs and wellies – it’s an excuse to get inside, ditch the muddy clothes ready to pop in the washing machine later and have a hot chocolate right?

Did you know that Persil is the official laundry supplier of England Rugby? We often forget how much fun sports can be for children that want to do them – not me, I hate sport. No. Thank. You… – but kids like Toby (who loves cricket) want to embrace sports and most are done outside, in all weathers, and they get mucky! It’s not something that we, and especially children, should think of as negative! If your children aren’t inclined to outdoor sports, then what about nature walks, rock climbing (some of my only fond memories of my dad involve climbing the rocks on the moors – something that we would probably gasp at the danger of now, but that was LIFE for me aged 8, and the only time I really felt that connection with my dad) or even going paddling in the streams (see pictures).

Our local forest Dalby Forest has a Parkrun, also supported by Persil, and it follows a gruffalo trail – you could walk and run these trails which are found all over the country, it doesn’t have to be anything fantastical.

Dirt is Good is a campaign that Persil have been supporting for a time now, and as a mother who is passionate about not making technology the devil and embracing it, I’m proud to say I’m equally passionate about this. We’re off to a playdate now and despite it being slightly drizzly and a bit rotten, I know that the children will be outside, playing away. It’s wonderful to see and it’s something that I think is really important, just as important as moving with the times and embracing tech.

For more information about getting children outside and playing, you can visit http://realplaycoalition.com  and for more information about the Persil Dirt is Good campaign, you can visit their website here: http://www.persil.com/dirtisgood 

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This is a collaborative post with Persil. #AD

1 Comment

  1. Avatar November 8, 2018 / 6:03 pm

    Since my children were little they have used ipads and I also have found it convenient and a worry that it will be too much. However I have resigned myself to the fact that it is now part of life and we get out as much as we can with them. I’m intrigued about forest school though.

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