The benefits of outdoor play are right in front of us. Yet many of us choose indoor play for our children as a matter of habit. Alarmingly, global think-tank DQ Institute has reported that children in Singapore spend an average of 35 hours a week using screen time for entertainment – three hours more than the global average.
We know that playing outside is not the same as playing inside. There are unique benefits of being outdoors with nature. When children are playing outside, they move more, sit less and play longer. Children use all senses when they’re outside compared to only two – hearing and sight – when on devices. Their eyes get the exercise they need to help combat myopia. Too much screen time can affect your child’s eye health and cognitive development. We also often hear how being exposed to nature can help to build the body’s immune system. Besides that, children gain resilience and develop social skills. They learn how to manage risks and keep themselves safe, too. Outdoor play can also be enjoyed as a family, through activities such as scooting. It allows parents to give their children their undivided attention, away from phones and other devices.
We’ve been promoting outdoor play through initiatives with Plano, a software company run by a team of eye-research medics and academics. They have developed an app allowing parents to control their children’s use of smartphones and tablets. The app includes eye-break reminders and even a points reward system for kids.