Getting kids beyond the screen and into the green
I’m not sure what happened, but it seems as though people have started living their lives through screens instead of through day to day interactions. Instead of talking to someone face to face, a text or an email is sent. The issue only seems to be magnified in the younger generations. Kids play video games instead of riding bikes. They sit on social media outlets such as Facebook instead of going outside and playing with their friends. What happened to the simple joys of playing outdoors? I’m not saying that all technology is bad and that we should get rid of anything that has a screen, but there has to be a balance in the lives of our kids as well as our own.
It is our responsibility as adults to encourage kids of all ages to take a break from technology and to interact with their surrounding and natural environment. I understand that there can be fundamental issues concerning finding a common ground for you and the youngsters in your life to interact on, but they key is finding an activity that you both enjoy. I find that one of the best ways for me to interact with my grandchildren is by going out into nature and observing wildlife.
Bird watching has always been a favourite past time of mine but there is nothing compared to doing it with my grandchildren. I love to see their excited faces when they spot a bird that they have never seen before or hear a call for the first time. I usually try to take my grandchildren on a hike when we go bird watching to get them more immersed in nature but I also enjoy sitting in the backyard with them and watching the birds at the bird feeder.
When encouraged to go outside and learn new things, most kids will enjoy themselves immensely and even thrive in the situation. When kids go out into nature, they are participating in a form of exercise and are soaking up fresh air and vitamin D. Plus, they are strengthening their cognitive ability and memorisation skills by spotting and identifying various species.
Going outside and bird watching is beneficial for people of all ages for so many different reasons. Not only is it good for your physical and mental health, but it creates opportunities for bonding with nature and those around you. If you’re into your gadgets you can make the most of them by bringing along your camera or phone and documenting the experience. Your kids will have a lot of fun going through old pictures as they get older and those pictures will help to stimulate memories of your time together.
Ernie is a nature writer by trade, with a particular focus on birds and bird watching. He spends most of his summers hiking with his grandchildren or sitting outside watching the birds at his birdfeeder.