Studies have shown that the recent trend of indoor entertainment can have a negative impact on children’s health. The plethora of new children-orientated television channels, the multitude of gaming consoles available on the market and the emphasis on technology directly correlate with overall poor health in the nation’s next generation. Childhood obesity is at an all-time high and more children are developing diabetes as a result of lack of exercise and frequent snacking. The rise of diagnosed ADHD has also been linked to the frantic over-stimulation of media-based entertainment. This is why outdoor games for kids are rising in popularity among health-savvy families.
Outdoor games for kids are often far cheaper than their indoor equivalents. There can be hours of fun derived from a single soccer ball, which often costs under ten dollars for a cheap plastic model. Compare this to the cost of a Playstation or Xbox game, which can cost nearly sixty dollars and are quickly discarded after one or two play-throughs. A soccer ball can provide entertainment for one child by himself, as he practices his dribbling skills or kicks the ball against a wall. Likewise, it can provide bonding and socialization opportunities as the child participates in a game of soccer with other kids from the neighborhood. The benefits from this are immediate and obvious: the child learns teamwork, co-operation with others, gets some exercise and has fun while doing it. What exercise is the child who sits indoors playing a soccer simulation game on a console getting, apart from occasionally moving his fingers?
There are also many cheap toys (under ten dollars) that can be used in outdoor play. A skipping rope can be used alone, which is an excellent form of exercise; or three people can take part in a complex skipping game with one child hopping up and down in the middle. A hula hoop is great for exercising belly muscles, and a favorite summer pastime for kids is seeing who can keep the hula-hoop in the air for longest while music plays. Another cheap outdoors toy is a skittles set – the game can be easily set up on a sidewalk or a quiet cul-de-sac, and several kids from the neighborhood can get involved in a skittles championship league. All of the above games are cheap and durable, and when taken care of properly will last your child for years.
Slightly more expensive, but equally as fun, are the more sports-orientated games. A baseball ball and mitt can provide hours of entertainment, as well as bonding time between family members. An additional bonus is that this hobby can become a lifetime one. The child could join a local Little League team, and continue the sport throughout high school and college. The child ends up having so much fun bowling and catching that they don’t realize that they are actually getting some exercise! Street hockey, with a junior-sized stick, is also a great way of incorporating actual sport into kid’s play.
The health benefits of outdoors play are undeniable, and the additional socialization that accompanies it is invaluable for a child’s development. The number of obese and unfit children is on the rise in America, and it’s time to buck the trend.