May 2, 2011

Summer’s Just Around the Corner

By Tiffany Stott
Augustana College Student Intern
Child Abuse Council

Now that those April showers are behind us, the onset of warmer weather, more sunshine, and blooming flowers has everyone itching to get outside. Whether it’s a bike ride along the river, a trip to the park, or just playing soccer in the backyard, spring offers that glimpse of hope to kids and teenagers to the three months of pure summer bliss away from school.

Kids are anxious to be done with homework and look forward to the free time that ensues. With the feeling of spring in the air, now is a great time to start getting your kids and grandkids outside and being active. However, being cooped up all winter may have gotten them into the habit of playing video games or sitting in front of the TV for just a little too long.

According to a 2008 PEW study, 54 percent of 12 to 14 year olds play video games on any given day while 46 percent of 15 to 17 year olds are playing video games. TV can be just as much of a distraction to kids as video games. The Kaiser Family Foundation has found that two-thirds of infants and toddlers watch a screen an average of two hours a day, kids under age 6 watch about two hours of TV a day, and children age 8 to 18 years spend nearly four hours a day in front of a TV screen. It has also been found that those children who watch TV over four hours a day tend to more overweight.

As parents and grandparents, you’ll need to be pro-active in monitoring what games are being played and for how long. Our culture has taught kids that they continuously need to be entertained. So creating other opportunities for kids to find an outlet for entertainment is going be the best way to help them cut back on video games and TV. It will also allow you to use your creativity in keeping them occupied. Fun ideas to keep kids interested include:

• Create an elaborate treasure hunt
• Have them help you in the garden
• Walk to the park
• Have a family picnic
• Go on a nature hike
• Sign them up for sports
• Fly some kites
• Check out the local community calendars for events

If it’s necessary to stay inside, play a fun active video game together such as the new game Just Dance for Wii. Children are always interested in fun activities, and knowing that you’re the one that wants to join them in the experience will make it all the more special. Those connections are going to be more memorable to them than spending two hours watching reruns of Hannah Montana.

For more information about the Child Abuse Council’s prevention and education programs, you can contact us at or Rondi Doyle at