By Megan E. Gaul, Nov 23rd, 2016. 

Studies by the American Academy of Pediatrics show us that on average, children spend approximately 7 hours per day with their eyes glued to screens. Whether it’s Pokemon Go, Super Mario, or Spongebob Squarepants, too many children’s activities are sedentary now, only requiring the child to sit and stare. Even in school, recess and gym time are slowly being cut in favor of more academics and more time in front of the computer.

Summertime seems to be a ray of hope for the sedentary child.

Summer provides endless opportunities to run, jump, compete, and play during the day. But the lack of structured habits and routines in the summer months means that children are drawn to tablets and televisions to fill their time. That’s why recent surveys of younger elementary school students show that the risk of gaining weight is much greater during the summer than when kids are in school.

If both school-time and summertime focus on stationary activities, how are American children supposed to combat this tendency? Kids tend to be more active when they have structured activities that encourage them to be active, and adults and peers that model the best and most engaging way to stay that way.

Children and adults stay fit in very different ways.

While many adults view fitness as a necessary evil, children have an enormous capacity to stay fit and healthy because many activities they already enjoy have great health benefits! Playing tag, dancing, racing bikes, and jumping rope are some great examples. The key to structuring fitness for kids is to create activities that already take advantage of their love of fun!

Gyms and fitness gurus have recently begun designing aerobics, Zumba, and yoga classes just for kids. They take the amazing health benefits of the adult classes, and they tweak the experience to make it accessible to children. Easy-to-follow moves, fun dance music, and team-building exercises create a fun experience that kids will want to stick with.

Screen-time isn’t inherently bad for children.

Kids who excel with modern technology will be prepared for the future in important ways. But a vital idea to keep in mind is everything in moderation. Parents, schools, and summer camps need to help kids resist the screen-time blues by structuring fun and engaging physical activities that will not only keep children fit, but keep them coming back for more!