Balance Your Screen Time with Green Time

I am well again, I came to life in the cool winds and the crystal waters of the mountains… – John Muir

Over the Christmas and New Year’s Break, I read an interesting book, Last Child in the Woods, which advocates for more unstructured free play time in nature for children. Think dreaming, imagining, playing, building, collecting… all in the “woods” or backyard corners that are natural.

Did you know:

  • that “studies suggest that exposure to nature may reduce the symptoms of ADHD” (p. 35)?
  • that “the quality of our exposure to nature affects our health at an almost cellular level” (p. 43)?
  • that “patients with a view of trees” out their window “went home sooner” (p. 46)?
  • that “the obesity epidemic coincides with the greatest increase in organized children’s sports in history?” (p. 48) and that children need more unorganized play for their physical health?
  • “joggers who exercise in a natural green setting with trees, foliage, and landscape views feel more restored and less anxious, angry, and depressed than people who burn the same amount of calories in gyms?” (p. 49)?
  • “children with more nature near their homes” “rated themselves higher than their corresponding peers on a global measure of self-worth“? (p. 51)
  • children who live in “places that allow for outside access have twice as many friends” as those who have restricted access due to traffic. (p. 51)
  • Nature, freedom, natural space, is a gift that has inspired American creativity, recognized by others, such as the Japanese (p. 97).
  • in an interesting study, participants who walked in a local nature preserve did better on a standard proofreading task than those who walked in an urban area or sat quietly reading magazines and listening to music (p. 105).

So, YOU, technology lover, just like me. I challenge you to consider:

  • how you are balancing your own screen time with green time (time in nature; seeing real green things; at least weekly if not daily…)
  • how you are making more green time for your own children
  • how you are balancing your technology time and advocacy at school with advocacy for children to be outdoors: real science, real collecting of specimens and data, real unstructured natural play areas for recess, etc.

I challenge you to make this your goal in 2010!

About Janine Lim

Janine Lim, PhD, currently serves as associate dean for online higher education in the School of Distance Education at Andrews University, in Berrien Springs, MI. She and her team support over 200 online courses, provide training for faculty teaching online, and work with the campus infrastructure support of online learning. Her department also provides educational technology and Moodle support for faculty and students. In addition, Janine is responsible for the faculty and courses of the Consortium of Adventist Colleges and Universities. Janine has taught over 15 unique graduate educational technology classes online numerous times over the past 15 years, with some classes attracting participants from all over the world. Her undergraduate teaching includes social media courses for communication and digital media majors. Janine has served on the board of the United States Distance Learning Association since April 2015. Prior to her work at Andrews University, Janine coordinated distance education for 22 K12 school districts in southwest Michigan for 14 years. In that position, as one of the co-founders of TWICE, Michigan’s K12 Videoconferencing Organization, Janine has spearheaded popular international K12 videoconference projects such as Read Around the Planet and MysteryQuest. While still serving on the board of TWICE, she was instrumental in designing and implementing the CAPspace website for collaborative videoconference projects. Janine also served on a team of Michigan educational technology trainers providing a workshop called ATA Technology Academy. Her current online learning research interests include successful teacher behaviors, quality online discussions, and student activity patterns in self-paced courses.
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