Family Day – Time to Re-Connect
Prince George, B.C.- It’s Family Day in B.C. and Northern Health is hoping families will spend the time re-connecting by either disconnecting from our tablets and phones or by incorporating the devices into a family event.
A good way to engage with kids is by geo-caching” says Christine Glennie-Visser, Northern Health’s manager of special projects for healthy communities and schools. “Sometimes, it’s just as simple as replacing that sedentary time in front of the screen with spending active time together.” Through geo-caching, families can bring along their smart phones as they search for items hidden throughout Prince George.
Glennie-Visser says some families are starting to make it a rule that tablets and smart phones are not allowed at the dinner table, “You are seeing an increase in times when families are together but everybody is on their separate phone. They may all be together in the same room or at the table, but they are not ‘together’ they are not connecting with each other. You have such a limited time there so it’s important , health wise, to take that time and maximize it because the effects on one generation will be visited upon the next.”
She says studies have shown that too much screen time can have an impact on a person’s ability to concentrate. The recommended daily screen time for children 2-4 is one hour a day, aged 5-11 should have no more than 2 hours a day.
We’ve become so used to screens in our everyday life that we are not connecting, it’s not the same to sit side by side and play individual computer games on your games, as it is to shut them off and do something together, even if its reading a book, going for a walk, even if it’s making a recipe together.” She says children are growing up without a lot of skills because people aren’t ‘turning off’.
She says board games can be a positive way for families to re-connect because people are communicating and learning from the dynamics presented during the game. “One of the things I have found is having different materials around and getting the kids started on a project, or being outside in the backyard to play a game.” She says when you engage your hands, or your mind on something else, you begin to forget the screen isn’t there.
“It isn’t about turning them (phones and tablets) off for the whole day, it’s about doing it gradually and setting goals to build towards where you want to get to” says Glennie-Visser, and Family Day is a great day to start.