How to ensure your kids are active
Modern technology has done a lot to improve our lives and make things easier. Unfortunately, it has some disadvantages too. Having machines perform our most tedious tasks frees us up to do more of what we enjoy. This mostly applies to practical labour-saving devices, like washing machines, dishwashers, or vacuum cleaners. It can also apply to automatic cars or electric trains. But there’s another side to this equation – virtualisation.
These days, there are as many people working online and off. Some jobs have been inadvertently phased out, like oil-based work, mining towns, or even mom-and-pop businesses, which have been replaced by white-collar positions, eCommerce, and the gig economy. For young (and not so young) adults, it means we’re no longer migrating for work. Instead, we gravitate towards the nearest, strongest, cheapest internet connection, and use it to earn a living.
For our kids though, it presents a slightly different problem. They watch us increasingly turn to screens for income, entertainment, and connection. Today, lots of couples say they met online, and some of our strongest friendships began on social media. We can link up with people across the globe in seconds, both for business and pleasure. So while some of us blame the web for increased loneliness, others among us praise it for our thriving networks and opportunities.
Screen them against the mean
This is all fine for adults venturing out into the world, and trying to find their space in it. It can be a little risky for teens, because as they try to find themselves and discover who they are, they’re susceptible to predators. And our digital devices offer easy pickings for these malevolent characters. In younger kids, the danger is a little more contained. Their youth leaves them vulnerable, but their naivety makes potential harm less likely.
That said, kids grow up much faster than they used to, so you may be unable to spot the exact moment when they evolvle from Lego Batman to Hentai … because from your perspective, they all look like harmless cartoons. You could install parental locking systems on their gadgets, or implement rules like ‘No phones behind closed doors’ or ‘No internet past 6pm.’ But there’s a far more pragmatic way to keep them off risky gadgets. Just take them outside.
Parents of prior decades were more concerned with getting their kids to come back in, because children prefer to play all day and night. But nowadays, indoor play is screen-driven, and internet addiction is real. You need to give your kids reasons to be outside the house. One way is to enroll them in a fitness centre in Sydney. Technically, this is still an ‘indoor’ venue, because it’s a gym or exercise hall. But it has coaches, trainees, and minimal access to screens.
Sports and other fun things
These types of youth clubs frequently have a mix of indoor and outdoor activities. Your kids can join team sports, like football, basketball, or netball. These can be played out in the open, or in a properly constructed court or pitch. They might still be inside, but they’re taking part in a structured activity, so their hours are accounted for. They’re not just killing time with endless videogames. Instead, they’re taking part in guided, controlled action.
Say, for instance, your kid joins a table tennis team. They have to practice for a set amount of time, or play a match with pre-set duration. There isn’t much idling, and when they’re not playing themselves, they’re watching their team-mates and rivals, picking up new techniques as they wait their turn. They learn sportsmanship and collaboration, and expend energy safely.
Keep them outside
Your kids may be unwilling to leave their bedrooms and run to the store, or visit a relative. But they’ll be eager to leave the house and go hang out with their friends at the youth centre. And because there are responsible adults supervising, it’s a load off your mind. You can check in to be sure they’re safe. Also, many sports and activities require them to leave their gadgets at home, or in their lockers. (An active rugger pitch is no place for selfies. #AllThatMud #NoTeeth),/p>
This automatically cuts their screen time. And as a bonus, you’ll feel better if their social media timelines are filled with sports photos and dance practice instead of potentially risky peer-driven antics … #BirdBoxChallenge. Of course the best part about these youth clubs is the focus on physical activity. Whether they’re fencing, rock-climbing, or skateboarding, they exert themselves. While screen time keeps them up at night (#BlueLight), group sports, theatre practice, or dance rehearsals will leave them positively comatose. So sign them up today!