It’s a common complaint of parents and teachers these days – how do I get kids to play outdoors – that kids are so entranced by screen time and the use of electronic gadgets, that they are less inclined to get outdoors and play.
And this is understandably a legitimate concern because as noted many times within the pages of this blog, I fervently believe kids need more play in their lives, especially in the outdoors.
My approach is not so much to eliminate this gadgetry, rather I believe it is more powerful to embrace it in the pursuit of play and the great outdoors.
Here’s a simple list of things you can do to embrace technology in the outdoors:
Use technology to research and plan an hour, an afternoon, a whole day dedicated to playing in the outdoors;
Take a look at some apps which will actively engage kids in the outdoors such as NaturePlayWA, Out-A-Bout and TreeTrunk;
Encourage your children to take photographs and videos of the activities they engage with, to be shared on their social networks;
Some natural public amenities, such as national parks, provide useful interpretative apps which help you squeeze more value from your visit;
Explore a series of free apps (such as MapMyRun) which track and map your route outdoors – invite your kids to record how far they travelled, the accumulated elevation, number of steps, etc and track this data over a period of time. You could even provide incentives to encourage activity; and
Use the inbuilt camera to take a series of incredible shots of nature, perhaps offering a prize for the most interesting, beautiful, adventurous, etc.
It’s not rocket science, but rather than simply resisting technology, see if you can find opportunities to embrace it as part of your play, to help you get kids to play outdoors.
You never know, it could be just the trick to get your kids to love the outdoors.