Before the days of computers, kids didn’t have much choice but to socialize and play outdoors. Climbing trees, making mud pies, and running around getting dirty, but having fun and keeping fit with friends, and imagining fantastical stories. Nowadays, with the arrival of computers, many children are choosing to spend their days indoors, sitting around, and exploring these stories on a screen, instead.

Why active play is important?

Though games can be fun in moderate amounts, they can become addictive, and many children choose to sit around for most, or all of the day, sitting staring at a screen. When you look at it this way, kids aren’t really getting enough activity. Active play is important in so many ways to your child’s development. It is widely suggested that children should be active for 60 minutes per day. This amount of time can be split into smaller time increments, such as four 15-minute time slots. Active play can keep control of many things, including weight, blood pressure, and immune system. Being active is essential for your child to grow up healthy, and develop their bodies, particularly muscle and bone strength. Both indoor and outdoor play in early childhood is very important. Let’s take a look at children’s indoor and outdoor activities, and compare them to see if one is better.

The Comparison Between Indoor Play and Outdoor Play

Outdoor Play

When they are outdoors, a child can create wild fantasies, like castles, knights, dragons, and imaginary lands. Therefore, being outdoors definitely makes the brain develop much faster than kids who are couch potatoes. They also tend to do better at school, make friends better, and can generally be much happier, as they can socialise, and run around, which ups serotonin in the brain.

Speaking of running around, children who play outdoors obviously are fitter and healthier than kids who stay indoors. Playing outdoors is essential to early childhood development.

There is also the safety issues. With all the current news of child abductions, some parents are rightfully worried, especially if they live in a big city, or in a rough area. Solutions to this include adults staying outside with their kids constantly in view, and walk with your kids when they go places. Safety is not only paramount in large cities but anywhere. Play dates are also a fantastic option, and a great way to meet new parents, and your kids to meet new friends.

Outdoor play equipment is also a great way to get kids active outside. Not only do playground equipment improve fitness, but they also improve brain function, as the child decides where to go and how to get there. Playing outdoor is essential to early childhood development, as this is how they begin to learn about and explore the outside world.

Indoor Play

Staying indoors though is preferable to some kids. They would rather watch TV or play video games than run around outside. Some parents, too, discourage their kids from playing outside or socialising too much because of fear of catching a disease. Ironically, however, being exposed to the outside world, and playing in the dirt and with other kids will build a better immune system.

However, some who argue for indoor play say that there are many games on the Wii, such as Just Dance, sports games, and the Wii Fit. And it has been shown that kids who play these games get the same exertion as walking for an hour. However, with these games, they miss the fresh air, interacting with other children, and using their own imagination. There are many wooden puzzles available as an alternative to video games, such as the Soma Cube, Wooden Jigsaws or Block Pyramid. But, you should anyway choose what suits the children’s age by following an age-by-age guide to select puzzles.

Indoor vs. Outdoor Play: Which is better?

Well, it depends. It’s obviously good to have your kids exercise and play outside, to socialise, but you also need to think about what to do if the weather is bad, or the kid is sick, for example. In this case, the answer is playing at home. However, time on computers should be limited, and activities that challenge the mind should be encouraged instead. A healthy balance is key to your child growing up both fit, and with healthy cognitive abilities, with a strong friendship group, however, that doesn’t mean to say they should miss out on playing games or watching their favourite TV show once in awhile to relax. Gaming, after all, can be a large peer-based activity, with many games now being multiplayer. It’s just wise to restrict time on these and get your child out in the fresh air; go for a walk, have a picnic in the summer, take a bike ride. There’s probably lots to see and do and explore around you that your child would love.

About the author:

Riya is an inspired writer, passionate about traveling, lifestyle and encouraging startups. As a freelancer, she understands the importance of productivity at work. Connect with Riya on twitter, @sanderriya.

Do you want ideas on how to keep kids entertained without spending a fortune? Read here!

Photo Credit: April Walker, Boy at beach, Playmobil