Among environmentalists all around the globe, the slogan “Back to nature back to earth” has gained much popularity. But still, when we observe people, even the one living an off-grid lifestyle, they can’t help themselves from using screens excessively.
In this era, children are growing with cellphones, tablets, and other internet-enabled electronic gadgets in their hands. Parents use screens to keep their kids entertained or distracted while they are busy doing daily chores. And it works. Screens capture kid’s attention in a way almost nothing else does, letting parents take a breath to relax. But have you ever thought about what impact do these screens have on young brains? Due to these electronic devices and gadgets, children are facing genuine personality crisis. Rates of mental and emotional health issues, childhood obesity, and chronic disease are increasing in our children. The root cause of these issues is a lack of time spent outside with nature. And we can term this condition as a nature-deficit disorder.
It is easy for an off-grid living family to restrain children from using these electronic devices. Adopting this lifestyle provides us various opportunities to disconnect our family from the over-consumption of electrical gadgets.
This article will discuss the detrimental impact of screens on your young one’s health and how nature and an off-grid lifestyle can help manage these issues.
Harmful Effect of Screens on Your Child’s Health
Kids are naturally full of energy and have an innate need to run, jump, and stay active. When this instinctual desire for staying active curtails, and they sit on their butts for hours watching screens, they become overweight. Moreover, eating high-calorie junk food in front of a screen is also common, which leads to childhood obesity. This obesity can cause many health problems, including diabetes, heart diseases, and joint problems. These days, childhood obesity has become an epidemic in many countries, and the root cause is too much screen consumption.
There is a 20/20/20 rule for people who spend the most time working on computer screens. The rule implies that after every 20 minutes of work, look at something 20 ft. away for 20 seconds. It helps prevent eye strains and potential vision problems in the future.
Kids playing on electronic gadgets don’t blink their eyes for long, even if they know about this 20/20/20 rule. Instant eye strain can arise from staring at the screen for a longer time. And the future may also hold many visionary problems for kids spending too much screen time.
Increased Anxiety, Violence, and Poor Social Skills
Exposure to violent movies, TV shows, and video games can make your children desensitized. Kids imitate what they see on screens, and eventually, they may use violence to solve their problems or meet their demands. Excessive use of screens could also cause Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in your children. Even new research shows that constant exposure to electronic screens increases the probability of developing depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts in children. Children who spend most of their time on electronic gadgets may fail to develop normal social behavior and communication skills. It becomes difficult for them to make real-life friends, and they may struggle to get involved with their family and the community.
Without any doubt, screens at night are causing sleep deprivation among humans of all ages. However, the loss of sleep is most detrimental to kids.
Kids need more sleep than adults because their bodies and brain are still developing. They need 10-12 hours of sleep each night for proper growth and development. But increased screen time is reducing that much-needed sleep time. Consequently, a child suffering from sleep deprivation will be typically lazy, less attentive, and lack decision-making skills.
How much screen time is enough for Children?
According to the recommendation of the National Physical Activity Guidelines
- Children less than 2 years old should not watch TV or use any other electronic gadgets.
- For 2 to 5 years old children, these activities should be limited to a maximum of 1 hour per day.
- Children of 5 to 12 years old should not spend more than 2 hours a day using electronic media for entertainment, especially during daylight hrs.
Following are a few ways to deal with the above-mentioned issues while off-grid living:
From colorful chirping birds to playful munching squirrels, rabbits, and deer, wildlife holds a special fascination for children and people of all ages. Spare some time to explore and learn about the wildlife living in your surroundings with your children. It is a great way to engage your kids with the natural world or fauna and spending time outside.
Fix a Green Hour
Do fix at least an hour per day for your kids to interact and have fun with nature. An hour spends with nature daily is a prescription for long-lasting health. Managing an hour with your children interacting with nature, and playing outdoors is so easy while off-grid living. You can also make a quick stop at a nearby park while going home from school; fishing in a local pond or an unplanned picnic are some great ideas.
Make Garden for Plants and Wildlife in Your Backyard
While living an off-grid lifestyle, growing your own food is almost a necessity, and it can significantly impact your children. Grow native plants with your kids and ask them to water these plants regularly and fulfill their other growing needs. Moreover, together with your kids, you can build nests for wildlife to keep your children busy in managing food and water for nestling wildlife. Such activities help cultivate a love for nature in your kids.
Benefits of Interacting with Nature
Nature Enhances Thinking Capability
Nature generates a unique sense of curiosity; it does amazing things for children that no other environment can offer. The little things occurring naturally every day in your backyards and parks develop curiosity among children. Their brain starts popping multiple questions about the earth and the life that it supports, thus improving their thinking ability.
Nature Improves the Sense of Responsibility
Regular interaction with nature develops a sense of responsibility in your children as we know that living things tend to die when mishandled or not taken care of properly. Put the responsibility on your kids’ shoulders to take care of the living parts of their environment. By doing this, they will learn what could happen when they forget to water the plants growing in their backyard or pull a flower out along with its roots.
Nature Keeps Them Moving
The ways of interacting with nature are more exercising than sitting on the chair. Even doing a light walk on your green lawn or riding a bicycle through the park gets your kid’s blood pumping. It lifts their mood and makes them feel calm, relaxed, and energized. Exercise is not only good for your kids’ body, but it also helps make them more focused.
It is very crucial to maintain a balance screen time for our children. While off-grid living, you can keep them busy doing nature-based activities like growing food, managing water supply, building power systems, and taking care of animals. It will relieve their boredom and foster creativity and imagination in them while increasing empathy and reducing stress.