Kids Need More Play in Their Lives!
Today’s kids are over-scheduled with demanding school work and structured activities. Parents are anxious about keeping kids safe. Statistics from the American Academy of Pediatrics show kids spend on average 7 hours a day on entertainment media including TV, smart phones and tablets. A 2012 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study states that 18% of children ages 6-11 and 21% of children ages 12-19 were obese.
Immersed in the World Congress of Play conference dedicated to play, it was easy to conclude that kids today have little time for free play, especially active, unstructured, outdoor play. For most kids, their free time is spent on a screen engaging in sedentary play. What happened to physically active play? Schools have reduced recess and eliminated physical fitness classes, and with parents worried about their child’s safety, kids are encouraged to stay inside. Outside playgrounds and other play spaces aren’t always available near a child’s home. All this adds up to a play deficit for kids, where being physically active, especially in the outdoors isn’t part of their daily lives. Sally McConnell of KaBOOM!, a non-profit focused on getting kids active, spoke about the importance of kids needing active play to become healthy, successful adults.
Encouraging kids to be physically active will build strong, healthy bodies and self-esteem and help fight obesity. What are key ingredients to create innovative, playful products to get kids physically active? Here are ten things to consider:
- Encourage creativity with open-ended play
- Engage gross motor skills
- Spark a child’s imagination
- Change the way children view the world around them
- Allow kids to control or personalize their play experience
- Promote experimentation
- Develop curiosity with outside exploration
- Challenge kids to physically do things outside of their comfort zone
- Create rules that can adapt and grow with the child
- Encourage eye-hand coordination and other fine motor skills
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