I have written tons about how to get kids to put down their gadgets and get outdoors. So I thought it was fascinating that the National Wildlife Federation has actually decided to embrace a new approach when it comes to kids and tech — get kids to go outside with their gadgets.
It’s a bit of a “if you can’t beat them, join them” approach. But it’s also brilliant because it helps parents utilize their kids’ interest to introduce a passion for the outdoors. If kids see going out to play as an either/or situation — as in “Get off the computer and go outside,” they are more likely to rebel against the idea. But if they can take their iPods and tablets outside with them — and use those gadgets to get a better appreciation for nature — then it’s a win/win for everyone.
A new National Wildlife Federation report explores the positive benefits of technology and outdoor exploration. And what’s really cool is that the report doesn’t just try to scare parents about how much time their kids are spending with technology. Instead, the authors offer ways that kids’ media habits can both positively and negatively impact health, learning and social development.
Here are some of their tips:
♦ Use technology to help plan or inspire your next outdoor adventure.
♦ Keep a record of outdoor experiences with the help of electronics photos, videos or an electronic journal of adventures
♦ A technology themed adventure to can provide an equal balance between technology and nature.
♦ Give the app Ubooly a try ( www.ubooly.com/rangerrick ). It lets kids turn a walk in the park into an interactive experience with scavenger hunts, nature hikes and mindfulness games.
♦ Another great idea would be to simply let kids use their gadget’s camera to try to capture the most amazing nature shot. Or let them surf the Web to look up the tree or bird that they saw in the park.
Bottom line: Technology is here to stay, so why not embrace it and utilize it as a tool to help your children fall in look with nature?