As parents, you develop a natural drive to ensure that your children have the best chance at life. You want them to do well in school, to stay out of trouble, to read lots and to learn to be polite and build great social skills so they are ready to interact with the world.
But what if they do nothing but sit and play computer games or watch television all day? What does that do to their development?
Thanks to a never ending stream of hi definition television programmes designed to absorb their attention and games that have no conclusion, our children are being sucked away from a more natural way of playing and into a sedate pixelated social skill sapping world, that will teach them with some skills (e.g. hand-eye coordination, problem solving) but won’t give them the simple practical skills you can learn from playing a game out in the park.
But aren’t Parks Dangerous?
This is indeed a misconception, taught to us by the news and television dramas, that has led to countless families scurrying past parks with their children concealed in pushchairs to avoid what they perceive to be a dangerous zone not to be entered.
This is partly what a new government backed scheme in England hopes to curb. ‘Play England’ will enlist up to 20,000 volunteers to help develop, build, renovate, manage and staff countless play areas in England, as well as run play schemes, adventure playgrounds and even street parties. It will mean that play areas get regenerated and are then staffed so that parents feel more comfortable letting their children play there and will hopefully bring the community closer.
So one thing you could do to get your children playing again would be to support this scheme when it comes to your area.
What Else Can You Do?
Well you could get rid of your television and their computer games console, but you know that that would be more trouble than it’s worth. No the best thing to do is to lead by example. Children, especially young ones, are incredibly adept at picking up your habits; if you read books all the time, they will learn that that is something they should do to, if you smoke cigarettes and watch reality television all day, what do you think they will learn?
The best advice, and something that worked for me, was to regularly take them some place new. Maybe to a swimming pool, to an indoor play area with soft play equipment, the beach, the library…anywhere. Just get them moving and lead by example.