Going outdoors is one of the most important activities to combat myopia and minimise screen time. For some of our children who may not like the outdoors all that much, they’ve got an arsenal of excuses ready to be used to avoid the outdoors. Here are some ways you can work around that.
Has this ever happened to your child when you tried to bring him/her outdoors?
This could be a familiar scene to you – the moment you try to organise a short walk in the park, or a cycling trip by the beach, your child immediately breaks into a full-on meltdown – cue the tears, whining, protestations, and excuses. Sometimes, it’s because they’d rather spend the time at home on their screens than to go outdoors. Approximately 60% of parents who participated in a survey in England blamed video games for their child’s lack of interest in outdoor activity.
In The Ray Keepers, the dragons were so engrossed with their bottle-bottle screens that they totally forgot about going outdoors! They preferred to stay in their cave to play with their bottle-bottle screens. For some of us parents, our children share similar habits – “why go outdoors to play when my friends are all online playing too?” they might think.
As we are all raising smartphone natives in a digitally mediatised climate, it’s now more pertinent than ever that we take measures to minimise screen time before it’s too late. Excessive screen time has been proven to lead to vision issues like myopia, and could even contribute to mental health conditions like social anxiety and depression. One of the best ways to reduce screen time is to bring your little one outdoors. It has been proven that the outdoors not only safeguard your child’s eyes from myopia, but is also beneficial for their mental health.
However, for some of our munchkins, they prefer staying indoors where there’s a strong Wi-Fi connection. These days, Wi-Fi is almost just as important as oxygen. So, when they hear about the next outdoor adventure without Wi-Fi, there’s bound to be a whole list of excuses they’re going to give to try and shimmy their way out of it. Here are a list of those excuses, and how you can respond:
Excuse 1: It’s too hot outside.
Response: Water bottles, portable fans, and maybe even an ice-cream reward at the end! Who doesn’t like ice-cream? You could also schedule outdoor time during sunset or sunrise when it’s not too hot. Midday would be far too unbearable with the sun at its highest, but going for a walk or a cycle in the evening time would be far more bearable for your little one and yourself!
Excuse 2: I don’t like bugs!
Response: Yes, bugs bite. Ants, mosquitoes, the whole lot. But that’s why bug repellent exists! You could also purchase bug repellent patches to stick them onto your child’s outdoor gear if they dislike the feeling of applying repellent on their skin. The smell may be a little strong at first, but the moment they feel the wind in their hair and the sun on their backs, they’ll soon forget about it.
Excuse 3: But I’m about to finish this level of my game!
Response: Games are designed to be addictive. Unlocking new levels and reaching personal high scores are what keeps players going. If your child is about to finish his/her game, let them know kindly but firmly that after they finish that level, it’s time to put the phone away. You could even give them a time limit – say 10 minutes. Negotiate a deal with them, and remember to stick to it! You could also remind them of the Clear Vision Recipe – to take dashes of eye breaks and spend heaps of time outdoors.
Finding the right balance
Bottle-bottle screens are great for work and play, but every dragon needs a good balance.Ren-ray, The Ray Keepers
Your child’s phone is a great source of entertainment. Even as adults ourselves, we love using our phones to unwind after a long day – Netflix, anyone? However, we need to remind ourselves and our children to use them in moderation. It’s not our phones that are inherently harmful, it’s our relationship with them.
Just like how the cave dragons in The Ray Keepers finally realised the importance of balance, we need to emphasize this same lesson to our children. Upon realising that, the cave dragons immediately spread their wings and had fun soaring through the skies. Our little ones, too, deserve that.
If you would like to purchase The Ray Keepers, or any of the other 4 books in The Plano Adventures book series, you may find them in Singapore at Kinokuniya, Times Bookstores, and at Popular. Alternatively, buy them online on Amazon or Book Depository.