Unplug and play in 2016

It’s so easy to just plug in and, before you know it, you’ve forgotten to play

By Shelley Simm

School District 73

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning.  But for children, play is serious learning.  Play is really the work of childhood.” — Fred Rogers

It’s so easy to just plug in and, before you know it, you’ve forgotten to play. And, it’s not just kids who are missing the pleasure of play.

Its adults, too.

Somewhere along the line, screen time has become our life line. That’s not to say there aren’t benefits to the digital world in a digital age — because there are.

But, as Albert Einstein said, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving”.

To be mindful of the balance, save the day and mark your calendars. Unplug and Play is coming this month.

This week is set aside within the Kamloops-Thompson school district to encourage families to reflect on screen time and maybe more playtime.

According to stats from ParticipACTION, Canadian kids spend an average of seven hours and 48 minutes in front of screens every day.

Need some motivation to power down the computer and amp up the activity?

Further reports show just one hour of physical activity per day helps kids to be better behaved, helps them sleep better and helps them perform better in school.

But, how are parents supposed to hold off the digital tidal wave?

Dany Tynan, editor-in-chief of Modern Family, suggests three easy ways to ease the digital tensions that sometime exist at home.

• Create a contract: Sit down with your kids and collaborate on guidelines for when and how they are allowed to use their devices.

Write them down so there is no dispute later over what they agreed to do.

Kids might also get some motivation if parents write a similar contract with some fun consequences. Broke the contract?  That’s 25 jumping jacks!

• Establish tech-free zones:  This is a popular tactic to see aside times or spaces where technology is a no-go zone.

Make meal time a digital-free zone or hit the “off” button at a certain time of night.

Other parents find success in keeping kids’ bedrooms gadget-free.

• Choose your screens carefully: Maybe your child is watching too many You Tube videos, but what if they are about science or history?

It’s not a substitute for outdoor play, but learning stuff is cool.

Talk to your kids about types of screen time.

The call for more balance is likely good for everyone.

Adults can also use the Unplug and Play challenge as a digital health check.

Go online to participaction.com for tips and tidbits on how to manage in a world that has us so plugged in.

The website provides not only fabulous information, but also inspiration on ways to introduce new ways to play and engage.

Go retro. Pull out the puzzles. Start building card houses. Play charades. Make one night a week a family games night.

Whatever your way, we wish you great memories of play.

Shelley Simm is a School District 73 trustee. Column courtesy of Kamloops This Week