How Swimming Lessons Can Keep Kids Off Smartphones
As parents, we all know how pervasive screens are in our child’s world. Keeping little ones off screens of all shapes and sizes is almost a full-time job. Studies show that contrary to their name, smartphones can make us less smart, less social, and more forgetful, as well as tired and depressed. On top of this awful wrap, they’re also causing our kids to jump from task to task, negatively affecting memory and concentration. Now with the new screen time recommendations outlined below, there’s even more motivation to find alternative activities for your kids.
Screen Time Stats
Based on The Australian National Physical Activity and Sedentary Guidelines, here are the latest recommendations:
- For kids under 2 years of age, the standard is zero screen time; that’s right – none – zilch. This includes exposure to all types of media, like TV, electronic devices, DVDs, computers and video gaming.
- For kids 2-5 years of age, the standard is less than 1 hour of screen time per day. Same as above – that means only 60 minutes of exposure to all media types.
- For kids 5-17 years of age, the standard is less than 2 hours of screen time per day. Again, the same parameters as above apply.
Do As I Do
If you’re looking to balance screen usage effectively, your best bet is to tackle this as a family unit; nut out a family plan. For little kids, install parental controls and try to sit with or near your kids while they’re using devices, to explain what they’re seeing. Put the devices in common spaces so you can keep an eye on them; set time limits and steer clear of screens too close to bedtime. When it comes to teens, there’s no secret – you’re dealing with a strong will! So your most potent tool is the fact they model their technology-use on what they see, and by the boundaries you set for yourself.
When you take away excess screen time, you’ll find an activity hole you need to help fill. Why not help your kids develop a love for swimming and being in the water which they can carry with them throughout their lives. The ultimate goal is to foster kids who are confident in the water. When you raise kids to love swimming, they’ll naturally choose to spend time in the water over spending time in front of a screen.
The Water Works
There are many things swimming can do that devices don’t. For one thing, swimming lessons encourage kids to listen to instructions actively and concentrate on one thing at a time. In this watery learning environment, you often need to work with others, as well as work together to achieve goals. And speaking of goals, swimming can help kids and teens learn to set them effectively; weekly practise motivates swimmers to reach their ambitions in the water. Learning to swim is all about self-motivation. Kids get to know their strengths, and these then extend to life out of the water.
Swimming is a sport that boosts confidence, and the earlier kids learn, the more confidence is fostered. Learning swimming skills is excellent for self-assurance because it encourages independence. Little swimmers also gain robust visual-motor skills, which resonate with their out-of-water adeptness like cutting and colouring-in. Being on devices can be detrimental for your child’s confidence; the constant comparisons and exposure to other people’s ‘highlights reel’ can crush self-assurance. When kids have solid swimming foundations, it opens up more social situations, to hang out at the beach or pool with friends and family; less reasons to hide behind a screen.
Whereas screens can aggravate stress and anxiety, swimming can reduce both. Due to its repetitive nature, swimming can put little ones on autopilot, helping them let go of their worries and hush their thoughts. It also encourages the release of endorphins, which generates a feeling of calm, as does the sensation of weightlessness. And by tiring your kids and teens out by swimming – they’ll sleep better.
Turning off the tablet in favour of taking tumble turns in the water is infinitely more beneficial in both the short and long-term. Take the plunge today.