Children live in a society where gadgets are constantly within reach and readily available. Whether this be a smartphone, tablet, ipod, games console or television, children are and will continue to be surrounded by technology. This isn’t necessarily a negative thing since it is important for children to learn computer skills from an early age and be able to use technology for communication and entertainment purposes, however, there can be harmful effects of children using gadgets and spending too much time focusing on their screens. It’s very important that in a world where technology is advancing daily, that children understand the need for a balance of both on screen and off-screen time.

The challenge of tearing children away from their screens is something which many parents may battle with, especially during the school holidays. It may seem there’s nothing which can match the excitement of playing the latest console game, updating social media or watching their favourite television shows on demand. However, it is necessary to work out a healthy balance of time spent looking at screens and time away from screens. Like with most things in life, moderation is key. During the long school holidays, sports clubs like Kings Camps can offer full weeks of fun for children aged 4-17, completely screen free for up to 9 hours a day. From the moment children arrive on camp, coaches actively engage them in team sports and challenges. With a no screens policy, it’s all about being active, having fun and learning together.

Although having a no screens policy is a positive thing when delivering a sports camp, there are positives to using gadgets in other settings to promote physical activity. For example, many gaming companies have tapped into the exercise industry and turned what was once a traditionally sedentary activity into one which can now be used to get children moving, without having to leave the comfort of home. This can also be a great way of bringing people together as many games are created for groups and families.

In extreme cases, some children can become almost addicted to their screens, especially social media. This can be seen through constant refreshing of their news feeds, updating their status and checking every few minutes to see how many of their ‘Facebook Friends’ have ‘liked’ their posts. Many studies have shown the harmful effects of this behaviour including, low self-esteem and children being prone to cyber bullying. This often goes unnoticed as it is aimed directly via private messages, for only the victim to see. It’s been suggested that screen time should be limited and parents should take steps to ensure setting are updated on gadgets to reduce the risk of children having access to unsuitable content. It’s important for parents to openly discuss the dangers of technology with their children. Thinking about the appropriate age for your child to have their own social media account is a big decision and you need to be aware that they may be exposed to things out of your control.

In an ideal world, parents would see their children spending more time playing and interacting with others face to face rather than communicating via gadgets and gaming, not moving for hours at a time. However, it can be a struggle getting children to put down their phones. Encouraging children to find alternative hobbies, where they can take time out of sitting looking at screens and get involved in being active in some way, both you and your child will reap the benefits. The exercise will get them interacting with peers and not with a screen, enabling relationships to build and get them moving. During the long school holidays when children are left with child minders, you’re not able to guarantee how much variety they’re getting, but by using a sports club or camp such as Kings Camp, you’re guaranteed your children are getting the exercise they need whilst also having time out from their screens. It seems the direction and development of technology is ever increasing and so accessible to everyone. Therefore, it’s so important to continue to encourage time out of screens and to get involved in activities with peers to ensure they have a healthy balance of both.