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.
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 humandesign 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.
Not far from downtown Washington, D.C., kids perch on tree branches, dig in the sand, and busily port sticks from one place to another. An adult rests on a swinging bench while someone else sniffs a drift of coriander. This is Constitution Gardens, a different kind of park.
It all started with a competition. The city council of Gaithersburg, Maryland wanted to enliven a sliver of public land that had devolved over the years into a dull, little-used cut-through. The renovation should reflect the many new cultures that now infuse the locale. The new park would be an antidote for what Last Child In The Woods author Richard Louv calls “nature deficit disorder,” a malaise that settles over children when they don’t have enough time outside. Continue reading →