Balancing Screen Time and Physical Activity for Kids Amidst Coronavirus

For many parents, increased screen time resulting from the current Coronavirus pandemic can pose some serious concerns. Children spending extended periods in front of a screen, whether it’s a phone, tablet, laptop, or television, are at risk of experiencing severe physical and mental health issues, and many parents are scrambling to find resources for physical activity during the pandemic.

While the time children spend in front of the television or other devices has always been a concern for parents, the Covid-19 pandemic is creating an even bigger challenge. School, Afterschool activities, social events, and even doctor’s appointments are all being held online, so it’s practically impossible to avoid the virtual world. Children can benefit from a bit of time behind the screen, but when their intake is increased tenfold, it’s best to strike a balance between screen time and physical activity.

Coronavirus is already having severe effects on adults’ mental and physical health, and children are also at risk. It’s crucial to keep kids active and away from devices as much as possible at this time to ensure a healthy and happy life long-term.

Increased Screen Time Affects Children’s Health

Exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle, and too much time spent online can have a significant impact on a person’s health. These days, children are exposed to tons of devices at an early age, making it difficult to pry them away for extended periods to get in some exercise time.

Unfortunately, the lack of activity in youths is causing a massive epidemic of childhood obesity. On top of obesity, there is a wide range of other health issues caused by inadequate amounts of exercise, including Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and other severe afflictions. Children need regular activity to improve on:

  • Dexterity
  • Endurance
  • Flexibility
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Musculoskeletal strength
  • Reaction time
  • Fine motor skills
  • Communication skills

Without enough exercise, kids will experience some nasty side effects both physically and mentally.

Mental and Physical Health Go Hand in Hand

With childhood obesity constantly on the rise, it’s unsurprising that there is also a sharp uptick in depression and anxiety in the younger generations. Weight gain has severe adverse effects on mental health and can lead to a lack of confidence and an abundance of body image issues in young people.

During exercise, the body releases endorphins, which contain a chemical that makes us feel good both inside and out. It’s easy for a child or teen to feel depressed, anxious, or even experience suicidal ideations without enough endorphins. Physical fitness is an essential part of keeping your child’s mind and body healthy during a pandemic.

The Sweet Spot: Striking a Balance Between Fitness and Online Activity

Finding time for fitness amidst the chaos caused by the Covid-19 pandemic is understandably tricky. Don’t get beat down if you’ve yet to find the perfect balance between physical activity and online sessions. Utilize any of the following tips and start prioritizing physical and mental health in your children today:

1. Make Movement Mandatory

Now, we’re not trying to make physical activity seem less fun by making it mandatory. However, free time to explore different fitness activities and games gives children the chance to step away from the screen, decompress, and re-energize their bodies.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends at least one hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily for children ages 5-17. With the pandemic abound, getting kids active for an hour per day probably seems impossible. Still, there are several ways to integrate physical activity into your child’s daily distance learning routine.

Incorporate regular, structured exercise time into your young student’s schedule. Just like most schools have mandatory recess time, so should your online classroom. It doesn’t even have to seem like exercise! There are plenty of fun activities that engage children and increase their heart rates, improving physical health without the child ever even noticing. Some excellent examples of fun at-home exercises and activities include:

  • Creating dance routines
  • Building an obstacle course
  • Hula hooping
  • Jumping rope
  • Going on a scavenger hunt

Whatever activity you choose to incorporate into your child’s routine, the end goal is still to get kids excited about staying away from device screens, even if it is only for a short while each day.

2. Incorporate Outdoor Activities

After being cooped up for months on end, children are itching to get outdoors and enjoy time with their friends and family. Weekends are a great time to encourage physical activity outdoors. The options for fun, outdoor activities that positively impact physical fitness are endless. From bike rides and tossing the ball around the backyard to more strenuous activities like long hikes and rock climbing, there is bound to be an activity you can enjoy (while still following social distancing guidelines).

3. Utilize Virtual Physical Activity Programs

When winter comes, and the weather isn’t cooperating, so you can’t go outside, there are alternative options that enable physical activity indoors. Although you definitely want to continue encouraging kids to take time away from their devices, some screen time is still okay. Consider utilizing a virtual physical activity program to teach your young student new skills and foster a love for fitness simultaneously.

Several virtual physical activity programs are available from Skillastics, a large group physical activity resource used by school districts, teachers, and afterschool programs around the United States. Skillastics offers fun, online fitness programming in the following subjects:

  • Pilates
  • Yoga
  • Martial arts
  • Basketball
  • Mindfulness
  • Move N’ Groove
  • STEM and sports
  • And more!

Skillastics virtual physical activity program is the perfect tool to help break up the monotony of in-home education experiences. Your children will love how easy it is to learn, and the virtual program easily transitions back to in-person classes, so they can have something to look forward to when things get back to normal.

Conclusion

Too much time spent behind screens on televisions, computers, tablets, and other devices is detrimental to a healthy child’s development. It’s difficult to determine when enough is enough when it comes to screen time amidst Covid-19. If you’re concerned about your child’s online intake, consider implementing our exercise tips as mentioned above. Don’t hesitate and risk harming your child’s physical and mental health; start shopping for virtual physical activity programs from Skillastics today.

About the Author

Sandy Slade is the CEO & Founder of Skillastics®, the #1 on-site and virtual physical activity resource for groups of children of all sizes.  The on-site programs are designed around Skillatsics Activity Kits.  These Activity kits include an innovative technique of play, executed on an oversize mat, where up to 100 children can play at one time.

The virtual programs provide students with an amazing variety of physical activity experiences that consist of 30 days of content lasting 30-40 minutes a day taught by national experts.

Skillastics® is enjoyed by over 10 million students in more than 25,000 Physical Education and After School settings nationwide.

For more information, email info@skillastics.com or check out www.skillastics.com.

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