By now, kids have put their schoolbooks away and are taking full advantage of the lazy days of summer. However, White-Wilson Pediatrician, Dr. Kyle Simmers warns that the lack of routine can be detrimental to a child’s development and overall health.
“During the summer months, it is easy to fall out of routine,” says Dr. Simmers. “Some children become less and less active, spending hours indoors and in front of TVs, video games and cell phones.”
Dr. Simmers suggests setting boundaries for the amount of screen time children indulge in each day and sticking to them. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that children should be limited to only one to two hours of screen time per day. Instead, children should engage in activities such as reading, writing, making crafts, playing games or doing household activities.
It is also important that children get outside and are active. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children ages two and older engage in a minimum 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity daily. While most know that physical activity is key in development and weight reduction, many don’t realize its important psychological effects. Regular physical activity is linked to increased self-esteem and to decreased anxiety and depression, helping keep children happy and healthy.
One way to ensure that children are receiving ample physical activity is to set aside time for family activities that get everyone moving. Evening walks, pick-up games of basketball or kickball, swimming and bike rides can be enjoyed by the whole family. They also make exercise a fun bonding experience. Parents will be happy to learn that activities like mowing the lawn, raking leaves and washing cars also qualify as physical activity.
“Families should make the most of their summers,” says Dr. Simmers. “Taking precautionary measures will ensure that children return to school happy and healthy.”