Spending Time Outdoors in Nature Can Benefit Children and Balance Screen Time
In the age of smartphones, screens, and tablets, children are more plugged in than ever before. According to a study by Common Sense Media as reported in Today’s Parent, in 2017, kids eight years old and under spent an average of two hours and 19 minutes on screens per day. A sizable 45% of kids under eight have their own device. While these devices offer kids entertainment and learning opportunities with unlimited information at their fingertips, there is a clear downside. Recent studies show a range of negative developmental and behavioral effects in children and teens.
Another outcome of increased screen time is a loss of quality time spent outdoors. It’s widely supported that children benefit from time “unplugged” outside, in nature. Why is it beneficial for children to spend time outside? Here are a few key reasons why:
Benefits of Children Spending Time Outdoors
- Promotes Imagination and Creativity
Playing outdoors provokes children’s imagination. Rather than passively watching a story unfold on a screen, being outside requires making up their own games, characters, and stories. Nature can serve as a kind of blank canvas, inviting kids to dream and make-believe — abilities that can translate into creativity and ingenuity as an adult.
- It’s Good for Their Health
Children playing outside get physical exercise, which is good for their physical and mental health. Physical activity helps children hone coordination skills and maintain a healthy weight. Exercise releases endorphins in the body — natural mood-boosting chemicals which increase energy levels, reduce stress, and relieve pain.
- Less Likely to Suffer From Nearsightedness
Studies show that prolonged time spent staring intently at screens can be harmful to vision and increase chances of nearsightedness. Outside, children are more likely to be ‘looking at the big picture’, focusing far away, looking at other playmates faces, or shifting their focus from up close to far away and back again. This is more natural for the human eye.
- More Likely to Appreciate Nature
Children who spend time in nature are far more likely to enjoy spending time outdoors as teens and adults. This leads to a more active lifestyle over the course of their lives, and can positively inform their interests and pursuits. Studies show that children who spend time outside are more likely to be happier and healthier adults, with reduced risk of suffering from mental disorders and depression.
- Getting Dirty is Good (For the Immune System)
Studies show that exposure to dirt and bacteria can help strengthen children’s immune systems. Over sanitizing and preventing children from getting dirty outside can hinder their ability to build up a natural tolerance. That’s right, their maddening compulsion to stomp in muddy puddles and eat worms might be spot-on.
Even with these key benefits in mind, it can still be a challenge for parents to draw their kid’s attention away from electronics to the outdoors. A strong motivator can be engaging kids in exciting outdoor activities or taking family vacations to locations known for spectacular natural sights. At The Umauma Experience, we aim to be a resource for parents and families that want to unplug and reconnect with the beautiful outdoors. Our location is on stunning Hawaii Island, home to countless natural wonders like waterfalls, pristine beaches, and volcanoes certainly helps.
Umauma’s Best Activities for Kids
While all of our activities are kid-friendly, there are a few that we’ve found children particularly enjoy during their visit to The Umauma Experience. They will be talking about their experience for the rest of your vacation, or the whole car / plane ride home.
Our most popular activity with guests of all ages, children especially love the thrill of our zipline course. Open to children ages four and up, our zipline course flies above 14 waterfalls. Our tandem zip lines are great for kids (and adults) who are a little nervous or afraid of heights as they can zip side-by-side with a parent or sibling.
Kids four years old and older can get down and dirty on a thrilling, fun-filled ATV adventure in Hawaii Island’s back country. The ATVs can be driven by an adult or guardian or by one of our guides as long as the child or teen is accompanied by an adult or guardian on tour — either way there’s no experience like it! Tours include a break at our private waterfall and pond where a light local snack is provided, as well as the option to jump into water and cool off. Tons of photo opps of breathtaking mountain and ocean views!
- Horseback Trail Ride
If your children are animal lovers, they’ll enjoy our horseback trail ride, hosted on our property by Wailea Horseback Adventures. Children 8 years old and up can join this tour with their parents or guardian. Along the ride, kids can spot happy cows grazing as they wind through open pasture land. After viewing beautiful Umauma Falls from above, the tour makes a pit stop for a swim in a refreshing waterfall pool. Parents can order lunch or a snack to enjoy during the swim break.
- Kayak and River Swim
If your kids love the water and are fascinated by waterfalls, this is an excellent stand-alone activity or as an add-on to another tour. Children of all ages are permitted to do the river swim with their parents or guardians. Teens ages 16 and older can participate without a parent. The staff can provide life jackets for little ones, as well as fun water toys like paddle boards and kayaks to play with in the waterfall pool. Lunch is provided.
- Self-Guided Walking Tour of the Gardens
For any age, a self-guided walking tour of the Umauma Experience grounds is a great way to stretch their legs and get immersed in Hawaii’s beautiful tropical scenery. They can spot blooming flowers, fruit trees, and maybe even sip fresh coconut milk. The walk takes you to the Umauma Falls Lookout, where kids will be entertained by watching zipliners fly high above their heads over the falls.
Are you ready to unplug and explore Hawaii’s natural beauty with your family? Contact us to learn more about tours and activities your kids will love.