Physical Activity vs Technology - Suzanne Richards

Posted: 23rd Nov 2016

Category: Families

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Am I the only person on the planet that feels technology is taking over our children and our lives? Does anyone else have a battle with their child over the use of tablets, phones, PlayStation, Xbox  etc.?

For me, do I understand why they will watch, for hours, someone kicking a football around on YouTube but will no longer go and knock on their friend’s door and actually play football. Why they play FIFA 17 speaking into a microphone to other children, in the comfort of their own home instead of getting out and getting muddy and feeling the ball at their feet.   Children in prams glued to tablets playing games or watching videos – no I don’t understand.

I think my most unbelievable sight was on holiday this year; a 7 year old was playing on the iPad at an evening meal while an adult cut up her food and fed her. I had to restrain myself from going over. More recently and more often I see the effects with my work in Schools, as children are starting school without the necessary skills such as basic co-ordination, balancing, hoping, skipping, running, jumping or catching a ball.  These skills were generally gained through active outdoor play in the garden or the park but these times are being slowly replaced with IPads and computer games.

The use of their fine motor skills have not been developed, which makes even the simplest of activities, such as playdough, scatter nets, small play balls  and even writing and jigsaws a real challenge for them. Their muscles are simply too weak and under developed. I am not saying technology doesn’t have a place in our lives and homes, however there needs be a balance like everything else, so below are a few of my top tips to combat the Technology revolution:-

  1. No technology at meals times. At least have one meal a day where you just sit and chat as a family.
  2. Have cut off points. Mine is 8.00pm at night  - all technology goes into my gadget tin – everything and everyone’s including adults  stays there until after breakfast the next day.
  3. Use the green space around you – make sure you spend time each day interacting with your child/family, this may be a walk, sharing a cup of tea, playing a board game, cycling, playing ball, take them out on their scooters, etc.
  4. Try new activities engage the family in a new activity, orienteering, watersports, running, family woodland adventure days – have your children even seen a map?
  5. Limit technology games to 30 mins a day if necessary or just weekends.
  6. Walk – everyone can walk – it’s free and its easy!