“Bratty Teen’s Facebook Post Cost Her Father $80,000” As a mother of a teen, you can just imagine how shocked I was when I read this headline about a teen who could not contain her jubilation that she had to post it on Facebook … that her father had won a settlement that garnered funds for their European vacation! Suddenly, this daughter’s breach of confidentiality on social network blew the settlement off in thin air.
Stories like these were unheard of during the times when kids engaged in outdoor activities instead of online. As a child, I remember how I used to run and jump and climb in our residential playground along with other kids. Unlike a Twitter shout-out that seeks following, our playground shout-out wrote “off limits to adults”.
Online activities are now redefining the way our children learn and play. Admittedly we, parents, are part of this change. I, for one, opted to buy my kids a computer instead of playground equipment because I felt safer keeping them indoors than outdoors. But realizing later those online activities has its hazards too; I brought back the outdoor games into their lifestyle. Here’s how…
It’s okay to get messy
The first step was to allow my kids to get dirty. Instead of looking at outdoor dirt as a hindrance to explore and have fun, I took advantage of this chance to teach my kids the importance of personal hygiene. I made it clear that they can play in the dirt, but once they step into the house, it was time to clean up as part of their health routine. From childhood to teen hood, this allowed my children to run and roll without worrying about the sweat and mud.
Bring it out
I discovered that some things that used to be enjoyed indoors can be better enjoyed outdoors. This includes storybooks, balls, blocks, and yes, the people! Bringing out some of the toys allowed my children to invent new ways of playing with them. Even our family bonding turned out more fun when done outdoors. Laying a mat on the ground and bringing out the storybooks brought an interesting twist to our traditional bedtime stories, while constellations of stars in the sky was a great way to tickle the imagination. Even as my kids grew into teens, they would still pitch a tent and hold barbecue sessions with their friends, right at our backyard.
I used to bring my children to a commercial playground daily in the late afternoons. The facility caretaker told me that the seesaw, swing, slide, jungle gym, sandbox and tic-tac-toe are important for child development. So I tried setting up our own playground at home. Of course it did not have as many equipment as the commercial one, but there was much that I learned from it.
To start with, we do know that children get fit at playgrounds. All the physical activities allow them to develop stronger bones and muscles, plus the added benefit of vitamin D from the sun. But what I didn’t know is that you can use a playground as a solution for toddler tantrums. This is because toddlers want a sense of independence and control over the environment; hence this often results to tantrums. For my kids, a free play in the playground was a simple way to fulfill this want.
Invite them in
Soon as I’ve set up the backyard, neighbors started coming in – first the kids, then their parents. I didn’t imagine how a simple backyard improvement could improve one’s social life. My kids, my husband and I suddenly found people who shared and understood our feelings, our interests, our daily concerns, and even our dreams.
Go beyond the backyard
I figured that if I truly wanted to teach my children about the world, I will have to go beyond our own backyard. This exploration began with walks in the park, biking in the side streets and visits to nearby gardens when they were little. As they grew, we’ve crossed towns and countries – enjoying nature’s wonders through river rafting, cave explorations and mountain trekking.
Bringing all these experiences together makes me realize how far my kids have gone – from exploring the backyard dirt in outdoor play to developing an adventurous spirit. I do believe that even in today’s computer age, children enjoy the same things that we enjoyed back then because that’s human nature!
And as my children learned to appreciate the outdoors, they also learned to deal with real people – not just the ones you meet virtually in the social network. And the best part of it is enjoying each other’s company as a family. Now that’s something that online gaming most definitely cannot do!
This article was originally posted on AboutPossibilities.com.
Aby League is a researcher. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and is currently taking her Master’s while working as a freelance writer and researcher. She is also an innovator and technology enthusiast. On top of all that, she’s a mother of two lovely kids and she also runs the blog AboutPossibilities.com.