Children can enjoy healthier, more active and fun lives.
Most of us have fond memories of playing outside as a child; building forts in the snow or doing leap-frog. Active play is not only fun, but important to a child’s healthy development. It gives kids the opportunity to discover their creativity and learn how to relate to others. It is a way to be fit and learn how to move their bodies that is free.
By grade 7, less than 21% of kids in Nova Scotia do the nationally recommended total of 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-physical activity daily. One of several causes for this is the increased time that kids spend doing sedentary activities, especially with screens.
Canadian kids spend an average of seven hours and 48 minutes a day using television, video games, smartphones and computer screens. Over the course of a week that is more time than their parents spend at work. This is almost 6 hours past the national recommendation of two hours for children five and older. Screen time is higher on the weekends. As for the current gaming technology claiming to result in active play, it is actually falling short.
The current campaign which you may see on television, at the cinema, on social media or on posters in your community—Make Room for Play—aims to increase awareness about how screen time is squeezing out active play time. The website makeroomforplay.com provides inspiration and solutions to help parents turn screen time into active play time. Physical activity behaviors that form in childhood often last into adulthood.
The Government of Nova Scotia has been partnering with ParticipACTION on its campaigns. Having access to resources that can help parents with ideas and provide consistent reliable information to better understand the issues is important and compliments Thrive! which is tackling the challenges at a policy level to create change for everyone. How supportive of play is the physical and social environment in your community? Are there safe, accessible, outdoor and indoor spaces for free play, are there opportunities during social and cultural gatherings? A number of communities across the province have created opportunities for families, children and youth to access rinks, pools and gymnasiums without a requirement to be part of a structured sports program, others are looking at the outdoor play spaces, and opportunities in the afterschool time period.