Kids health: The secret to smarter, happier and more attentive kids

Kids health and well-being ranks to the top of any parents’ list. (as it should!) So, I am happy to share the secret to smarter, happier and more attentive kids is… (drum roll please): More family time. More outdoor time. And limit screen time. I was surprised to learn in this recent study that families spend just 37 minutes of quality time together each day. And that’s on the weekends! Couple that with the fact that kids spend 7+ hours a day in front of a screen. I don’t need to be a pediatrician or child psychologist to know that this just doesn’t feel right for kids’ health. We need to limit screen time. Bring back more family time.

I’m a mom of a soon-to-be kindergartner. Even as I write those words, I simply can’t believe it. It seems like only yesterday I was rocking him to sleep or anxiously awaiting those first words. And when I pause to think about my favorite memories: they’re together, as a family. Often outside. But never. Not one. Includes a device.

Now we’re not a device-free family by any means. I love technology. In many ways it makes my life easier. Admittedly after a long day I welcome the opportunity to give us all a bit of a break with a little screen time. I’m not talking hours. But minutes. 22 in fact. Which is the average length of a show these days. I feel it a win when it’s an educational show as well. I love that he’s into The Magic School Bus. Now it’s the updated series “Rides Again.” But reminiscent for me as I grew up watching the original.

I digress…

But those 22 minutes gives me time to connect with my husband, start dinner, and “turn the page” from full time working mom mode -to- mom mode. And when the show is over, there’s a bit of play time and then we eat together as a family. There’s no doubt how important this is for us to connect, over a device-free dinner. And after dinner or weekends what’s best in the summer is: time outside! It’s a bit ironic that as I write this, I look around my house and see the pictures throughout the years. They are of us as a family nearly all: outside…laughing, smiling and creating priceless memories.

Let’s face it outside time is therapeutic for us all. And here’s why outdoor play is so important to kids’ health and well-being: according to this study  kids who spend time outside are smarter, happier, more attentive and less anxious than kids who spend more time indoors. Or on devices. Outdoor play builds confidence and promotes creativity and imagination. It provides positive stimulation through their senses. It gets kids moving, running, jumping. Active. Not only is outdoor play great for physical fitness but emotional health too. Playing outside encourages kids to think, to wonder, to explore. While giving kids more screen time might seem easier at times. It’s best to limit screen time. Set and establish clear boundaries with a platform that works effectively for your family. Break away from the screens and explore the world beyond the edges of the screen or the walls of your house. Build a fort, blow some bubbles, color with chalk, catch a toad, throw water balloons, enjoy a campfire….the ideas are endless. But make your memories yours. And simply enjoy because there only this little for so long. Take the pictures. Embrace the moments. And love your time together outside.

Sarah Voss is a full-time working mom of TechDen and a contributing TechDen blog writer. When she’s not enjoying family time with her husband and their 5-year old son, Sarah enjoys cycling, Peloton, cooking, organizing, modern design, spending time with friends, planning new adventures and let’s be honest: wine.