What Ever Happened to Playing Outside?

By: Janice Johnson-Plumer

Growing up, you would never catch me indoors. There were so many great outdoor games: kick the can, dodgeball, baseball, hide and go seek, board games, and riding bikes. I Bikerelished being outside. It was a way to be free and to exercise without knowing it was exercise. My mother would tell us to come in when the streetlights came on and I would always ask to stay out for five more minutes.

Back when I was a kid, there was no cell phone, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter. It was just my bike, my feet, and my neighbors playing until it was dark. There were no texts or alerts going off letting you know your friends were calling. I miss those days.

Kids today don’t know how to play outside. A surge of technology has taken over modern-day playtime. The iPhone, iPad, Instagram, and Facebook seem to vie for our kids’ attention.  It could be a beautiful day, and my son would rather play with my iPad than with his friends outside. He’s all about checking how many followers he has on Instagram.

TechnologyAs a mother, I truly encourage my son to ride his bike, spend time outside, and shoot hoops. Riding my bike was my mode of transportation, but my son will ride his bike for a little bit, and then he’s right back in the house. I try to limit his use of my iPad, but he manages to use it until the battery level is so low that I can’t even view a magazine that I wanted to read. I try to have a “normal” conversation with my son, but we are both our phones.

What happened to those days of being outside, reading a book, and not worrying about the latest tweet, YouTube video, and photo on Instagram? Those days seem to have disappeared, as we are now in a world of social media.

How do you encourage outdoor activities with your children? Let me know!

5 thoughts on “What Ever Happened to Playing Outside?

  1. We do lots of outdoor play here, but we live a rather unconventional-by-today’s life. We have no satellite or cable (although we do own a TV, antenna and DVD player which we set up for the kids weekly TV hour with Daddy and for some of the sporting events Dad wants to watch as well as an occasional family video) to, we own one laptop which we share (and will likely get one more within the next year). We have older cell phones that dial in and out — no text (by choice so as not to get addicted to constant connection). We don’t have an ipad (much to my son’s dismay), electronic games (beyond free ones that we occasionally let the kids partake in on the computer), etc. We choose to be relatively unplugged and see the fruit of our choice in the imagination of our children, time spent outdoors, conversations, had, etc. We also choose to play with our children ourselves outside and to invite friends over to do so or out to local natural areas to meet us for hiking, play, etc. And we eat outside A LOT when the weather allows — whereupon outdoor play becomes a natural progression from being outside to eat. It’s not always easy to make these choices, but we find it’s well worth it.

    In case you missed it, earlier, I wrote a bit about outdoor freedom here on the blog – http://signaturemoms.com/2012/02/08/chasing-outdoor-freedom/ and about eating outside at http://signaturemoms.com/2012/08/15/eating-al-fresco-right-into-autumn/.

    On my family blog, I share many outdoor ideas, such as a reading and nature study game at http://traininghappyhearts.blogspot.com/2012/06/match-it-up-nature-study-sensory-and.html ; pool noodle hockey at http://traininghappyhearts.blogspot.com/2011/05/we-play-pool-noodle-hockey.html ; further pool noodle play at http://traininghappyhearts.blogspot.com/2012/08/pool-noodles-for-diy-science-pe-faith.html ; obstacle courses at http://traininghappyhearts.blogspot.com/2010/10/we-play-summer-into-fall.html ; a summer sensory diet links for outdoor stuff at the bottom of the indoor ideas found here http://traininghappyhearts.blogspot.com/2011/08/summer-sensory-diet-series-indoor-ideas.html .

    Good luck with enjoying the great outdoors more.

  2. Reblogged this on LuckyMcKoy and commented:
    Technology is a blessing and a curse. Funny story. I was sitting in the parking lot of the Publix grocery store yesterday waiting for my husband to pick up ingredients for dinner, meanwhile, my 20-year-old daughter and I had our phones in hand playing words with friends (against each other) and we both laughed as we noticed my 1-year-old son in the back seat literally playing with his fingers…what a wake up call!

  3. We probably won’t see kids playing outside that much these days. But in our family, we always make sure that there’s a balance between everything. We always give our kids an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors. We let them play outside. We even play with them sometimes especially if the weather’s great! 🙂

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