It was a common refrain in my house growing up. “Go play outside,” my mom would yell when my siblings or I got a little too needy. “Backyard,” she’d order when we tried to change the channel while she caught up on Guiding Light. Or maybe, “Go see what the neighbor kids are up to,” if we were being too loud while she tried to study. (My mom went back to school for her Masters when I was little.)
It’s a phrase that reminds us all of decades past and time when children ran around neighborhoods from sunrise until the street lamp lit up.
And guess whose more likely to use that phrase now? Well according to a new survey from Euro RSCG, “Digital Dads,” men who mostly see technology as a benefit to their kids, are actually more likely to send their children outside for a little playtime.
In the new survey that looked at 1000 American dads, the group found that 42% of these tech-savvy fathers shoo their kids outside to play in the sun, compared to just 31% of average fathers. And this wasn’t the only way that Digital Dads chose to control their kids’ screen consumption. 60% of them limit the amount of time their children spend online, compared to just 50% of regular dads.
It’s interesting to see that dads who value technology and who embrace its benefits are also more likely to want balance for their own children. These dads are twice as likely to think their kids need the latest and greatest tech equipment, and yet they’re still more likely to limit it’s usage.
The information demonstrates an interesting dichotomy for lots of parents. We realize the importance of screen time as a learning tool. We feel guilty whenever our youngsters sit in front of a screen on a sunny day and yet we see the attraction for kids. And yet we don’t want our children to be zoned out all the time. Personally, I honestly believe that my four-year-old learns a lot from her V-Reader and her Leapster. She thinks the games are fun and I see her recognizing more numbers and shapes. I don’t look at those toys as just “screen time,” I think they’re developmentally helpful.
At the same time, I want my little girl to get outside. I want her to stay active and run around. I want her to see the balance between screens and physical activity and imaginative play. Those are a lot of balls to keep in the air, but kids need to be exposed to many different ideas and experiences.
I say techie dads (and moms!) should keep it up. Keep introducing your kids to what is truly impressive technology that seems to be evolving everyday. Then, make sure that they get outside to see the world without a glass screen. Balance is what’s most important.