Planning Better Walkable, Bikable, Drivable Streets

Crossing guard and kids

Let’s say you’re taking charge of your health and want to walk every day in your neighborhood. Or, you’d like to teach your kids the self-reliance skill of biking to school. Well, if sidewalks aren’t there, or you don’t feel comfortable using them, achieving those goals won’t be possible. That’s why the attitude of the public agencies who plan streets and sidewalks really matters. The health of a community is literally in their hands. By baking in the opportunity for exercise on sidewalks, lanes, and trails, they also build a healthy population.

Only recently has transportation been directly linked to health. Research now proves  Continue reading

Gifts That Help Kids To Be More Durable

Girl with backpack cycles to school

Digital devices can be so helpful and entertaining it’s easy to forget what they don’t do to help kids grow up to be self-reliant, durable adults. In fact, many tech-savvy school kids are doing strange things like losing their balance on chairs, bumping into other kids in the hallways, and bursting into tears at the drop of a hat. Occupational therapy researcher Angela Hanscom, author of Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children, also reports that core strength among children has plummeted. A big reason? They just don’t get enough rough and tumble.

These non-tech gifts supplement kids’ digital pursuits: Continue reading

Best Books To Help Parents With Tech Mentoring, Nature Guidance, and Self-Care

Parents want to raise well-rounded kids who are comfortable in their own skin and with navigating in the natural and digital worlds. These advice books help parents and other care-givers to achieve that goal or to care for themselves in the process.

screenwise-coverThe sensible guide to raising digital citizens we’ve all been waiting for, Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World finally gets how kids use technology and how parents can support their efforts.

Author Devorah Heitner is thoroughly respectful of both sides of the equation and never talks down to, judges, or belittles anyone. Her book is chock-full of practical use-‘em-now tips and she gently instructs and builds the confidence of kids’ first and best digital mentors: their parents. This book doesn’t just skim the surface, it gets gritty and granular, supplying the words and tools we all need.

Among Heitner’s most important points:

  • Choose mentoring your child over simply monitoring what they do online.
  • Have clear, consistent boundaries and explain them to your kids.
  • Pay attention when your kids need you, or as Heitner says, “Be here now.”  Why that’s absolutely crucial.

balanced-and-barefootAnother must-read, Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children supplements Screenwise by  Continue reading

Fighting Tech with Tech: Online Tool Helps Families Reclaim Time

Kids enjoy sunny day lying on dock

If digital gadgets and games are being designed to attract and hold kids’ attention, American pediatricians are pushing back with their own design.

“The goal is to give parents, and everybody really, a visual of how a child’s day maps out and we can really understand what affects the balance in their lives and what you need to do to have a balanced lifestyle,” says Corinn Cross, MD, FAPP, who came up with the idea for the Media Time Calculator, a major piece of the American Academy of Pediatrics new Family Media Plan.

Parents and kids can sit down together and use the calculator to ensure a 24-hour day includes not only screen time, but everything else a child needs to be healthy, balanced, and durable.  

Cross hopes the tool will help families make time decisions based on their own needs and priorities. “We don’t want media use to be the driving force, but just to fill in gaps.”

In the Media Time Calculator, the recommended times for sleep and physical activity are set by default according to a child’s age. You can see in this 3-minute demo how time available for screen-based entertainment quickly disappears:

I define durable human design as “the making and doing of things that promote and advance one’s ability to be an effective, contributing human in a complex and increasingly digital world,” so the Media Time Calculator certainly qualifies.

Get a free 1-page printable Time Priorities checklist to help you help your family spend time wisely.

To design your life so you and your family live in balance and harmony with technology (and everything else), read How To Be a Durable Human: Revive and Thrive in the Digital Age Through the Power of Self-Design.

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