The 'Green Time vs Screen Time' tool for families is a fun way to help you keep track of how much time your children are spending playing outdoors ('green time'), versus time spent indoors, watching TV or on the computer ('screen time').
Getting the balance right between green time and screen time is important for your child's health, cognitive and emotional development, and will help them grow into the capable and resilient people you want them to be.
Plus green time is free, on your doorstep and the most fun kids can have! So let's make sure our kids get outside and learn to enjoy the unstructured outdoor games we used to play!
How to Use the Green Time vs Screen Time Tool:
- Print the Green Time vs Screen Time flyer and put it on your fridge.
- Get the family together and agree on a family treat - something simple like a family bike ride, a trip to the beach or their favourite meal - and write it down in the space provided on the flyer.
- Now, every day your children spend at least an hour outdoors in green time, they should colour in one of the native animals. Green time can be spent at your local park, in your backyard, playing in the sand, climbing a tree or making a mud pie...you can decide!
- Each time your children spend an hour indoors in screen time, they should colour in one of the screens on the right. Screen time includes time spent on the computer, watching TV or movies, or on hand-held wireless or gaming devices.
- The aim is to colour in all of the green time animals before all of the screen time screens are coloured in.
- If all of the green time animals are coloured in first, then the prize is the family treat you agreed upon earlier in the week!
Why is green time so important?
The best reason why children should make the move from the TV or computer room to the outdoors is that you and your kids will be happier, healthier and have fun doing things together.
There is a growing body of research showing that by bringing unstructured outdoor play (nature play) back into our children's lives, we can help their cognitive, emotional and physical development and ensure they build resilience and imagination that are so important for a fulfilling life.
How much screen time is too much?
The National Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that for good health and development:
- Children younger than two years of age should not spend any time watching television or using other electronic media (DVD's, computer and other electronic games) and for children two to five years of age, these activities should be limited to less than one hour per day.
- Children five to 12 years of age shouldn't spend more than two hours a day using electronic media for entertainment (e.g. computer games, TV, internet), particularly during daylight hours.