The benefits of outdoor play are becoming more necessary. Today, as technology is becoming increasingly the default, we’re seeing an increase in various childhood issues. Many people are pointing fingers at technology for the rise in obesity, ADD/ADHD and other issues. An argument can be made that technology is addictive to young children, and its negative effects can be sobering. A 2018 study by Cyber Safe Ireland showed that 92% of Irish children aged between 9 and 13 own a smart device. Now, more than ever, we need creative ways to encourage activity in younger people. Thankfully, kids tend to be drawn to outdoor toys. Here are a few reasons why it’s essential to encourage them as much as possible.
Benefits of Outdoor Play: Neurological Development
The growing trend of kids spending time indoors on their devices is very new. We do not know with certainty how this can affect a child’s development. But what we do know is that the brain is plastic. It can change and adapt depending on what we do in our day. “Exercising your brain” is a thing. Your kids need plenty of stimulation to create new neural connections so they become smarter, abler, healthier adults. Physical activity and interaction with the environment is a huge source of new stimulation that is impossible to gain from a smart device.
The benefits of outdoor play also extend to your child’s physiology. Active outdoor play increases flexibility (and crucially, prevents inflexibility), and helps to refine their motor skills beyond the thumb and index finger, to incorporate the whole body in a wide array of movements that are essential for development, muscular strength, flexibility and cardiovascular health.
We all have a natural need for physical exercise and activity. When we run, climb on the playhouse swing, jump, skate, or ride a bike in the fresh air and sunshine. They like to use their whole body when they play outdoors (so make sure your kid is dressed for the weather) and find such physical activities interesting and challenging.
When children are climbing, pushing or swinging, the fine and gross motor movements required to balance and coordinate their body is bathing their brain in neural activity. It’s stimulating muscle fibres to strengthen and lengthen. It’s stimulating bone density and strength, and most of all…it’s fun! When it comes to outdoor play, the benefits cannot be underestimated. So get them out there having fun!