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Balancing the increase of the exposure time to digital tools thanks to outdoor education

In this article I would like to share with you some results of a very interesting study of UNICEF, which not only shows how internet, which earlier was an important but optional learning, socializing and free-time tool, has got for many children and youths the primary interacting way with school, friends and family, but also explains why children and youths should be encouraged to physical activity and playing.

2017 Italian children and youths spent on average 2,6 hours a day online. Compared with the newest representative national data for Italy, there is an important increase of 4-5 hours of the time per day spent in front of a screen.

Up to this study, the lockdown, together with distance learning, is the reason why children and youths spent more time than earlier using digital technologies.

An increase of the time spent online took place because an access to external areas, sport buildings and to the meeting places wasn’t possible during the lockdown.

Apart from assuring instruction, school is the place where children and youths can interact among them and with teachers and develop social and emotional skills. So the time they spent online for extra school activities could have been their unique opportunity to connect with friends, relax or also to exercise. Trying to reduce by children and youths the time they spend online in such a situation could not be the most advantageous approach. Families should better, with the support of local governments and other organizations, find new ways to encourage and involve children and youths to physical activity and playing during the school closing.

What else better than outdoor education, even meant as an informal education session lead by parents, could provide children and youths with the right mix of physical activity and playing?

Written by Sonia Simpatico