filed under: eco play, education, green education, green family, green kids, kid friendly, news, parenting
Forty British experts, ranging from neuroscientists to educators to writers, have written a public letter urging the government to step in and save today’s children from their commercialized, competitive, screen-based youth. Asking for UK officials to protect kids from the “toxic nature” of modern childhood, the group is pushing for several measures including the creation of a Ministry of Childhood, national guidelines for screen-based technology for kids up to age 12, an educational plan that focuses on outdoor play and social and emotional development, and cohesive efforts to address issues including childhood obesity and mental health issues. The experts first sounded a warning a decade ago with a public letter highlighting their concerns and they say that policy has been “half-hearted, short-termist and disjointedly ineffective.” The group contends that without this government intervention, the “children’s physical and mental health will continue to deteriorate” and that they will be missing out on key skills such as self-regulation and emotional resilience, which can be learned through experience, not instruction. Although the letter was released in the UK, we can certainly understand how the same issues exist in the U.S. as well. The focus on standardized testing, the long hours of homework, the lack of unstructured outdoor play, the increasing hours spent in front of a device, and more are resulting in kids who simply cannot interact with each other and the world in healthy ways. While the British (and the rest of the world) await potential government involvement in our kids’ childhood, we, as parents, can get involved in being the change. Go for a family hike, start a garden, consider sending your child to a school that values outdoor education and play, limit screentime (even if it temporarily makes you the “mean” or “uncool” parent), and lead by example in terms of healthy technology usage and making outdoor time a priority for the whole family. Now those are some New Year’s resolutions we’d be happy to take on in 2017 and from which the entire family will benefit.