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How and Why to Get Kids Into Nature

Is nature the cure for too much TikTok?

By Tricia Skoler & Maithri Sivaraman

We see and hear that children are on TikTok too much. How can we get our children excited about more positive play? How can we get children engaged and outside into nature and why should we even try? Nature is powerful.

Viltolda Klein/Unsplash
Source: Viltolda Klein/Unsplash

As recently reported in Forbes1 doctors in Canada may now prescribe nature to patients who could benefit from more time outside in parks. Getting the entire family outdoors and playing together is one of the best ways to promote cognitive and motor development and even family relationships. Even a brief walk in nature improves attention, communication, and wellbeing for families according to new research by Dr. Dina Izenstarm and colleagues, published by the American Association of Applied Psychology. Nature has strong restorative effects that help us to pay attention and concentrate. Have writer's block? Get outside. Can't focus on your schoolwork? Get some fresh air. There is a science behind why we feel calm and relaxed after a day at the beach or after a long hike or bike ride.

One problem is that we are constantly pulled by social media and technology in ways that did not happen thirty or fifty years ago. This magnetic pull is even stronger for children who grew up with iPads and the internet. Babies of the 70s and 80s may long for more simple days, hopping on pogo-sticks and riding bikes without a GPS, but a world full of technology is all that babies born after the 1990s know. In many cases, children and teens do not even know they feel anxious and stressed out. It's the new normal. What's the solution? We think nature is the key. How can we convince ourselves and our children to get off of the phone, off of the internet, and get outside to play or get some fresh air?

One approach is to find toys and products that are more exciting than our phones and apps. That's hard to do. We admit it. But when you find the right fit, it will be addictive. That's why it is so important to look for toys and activities that are engaging for the whole family.

We recently discovered a flying maze toy. It's like a frisbee and a maze rolled into one. We thought it was a great object to get families moving and outside. Not only that, the flying maze also had the potential to improve STE(A)M or Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematical Skills. It's important to keep life playful. If your child still will not get outside and play with you, how about making a TikTok or Facebook video of yourselves playing in a family challenge! What better way to improve coordination and motor control and maybe even apply some video editing skills?

Play in nature

If a maze can improve spatial awareness that means that it also has the power to improve math skills. According to research published in Developmental Psychology spatial thinking improves early mathematical skills. Children who are good at spatial tasks like mazes are also good at mathematics questions. So, let's get smarter about play and the design of engaging toys that get families outside and moving together. It's the smartest way to play for the whole family.


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