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Parks Over Pinterest: Getting Teens to Spend More Time Outdoors

Over the past several years, the use of mobile devices has greatly increased among adolescents. According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, among adolescents ages 12-17, 78% of teens own a cell phone and 47% have smartphones. While this allows them to communicate with family and friends and access information, it also parks them on the couch and decreases the amount of time they spend communicating in person and interacting in the physical world. Using the Internet is becoming increasingly more important to adolescents, while enjoying the great outdoors and the people around them is falling on their list of priorities. But there are several ways to get teens back outdoors and enjoying themselves.

  • Teen Wilderness Adventures: Hiking, rock-climbing, and kayaking are only some of the ways to make outdoor memories. Structured programs such as these are great for promoting not only outdoor activities but also teamwork, friendship, and self-development for adolescents.
  • Gardening Health and Safety Tips: Gardening is a great way to get outside. This link is very helpful for both beginners and experienced gardeners, including tips on not overworking yourself, enjoying the time outside, and successfully maintaining a garden.
  • The Benefits of Playing Sports Aren't Just Physical! The reasons that adolescents should be spending time outside go far beyond physical benefits. There are many mental, social, and academic benefits to playing sports as well. This link explains the many other benefits of being a part of a team.
  • Volunteer Opportunities: Volunteering outdoors is a great way for adolescents to not only get out of the house and off of their phones but to learn and practice respect and responsibility. This program offers activities such as snowshoeing, cycling, and weekend excursions, so there is something for everyone! This particular foundation works with people with disabilities so that they can partake in these outdoor activities as well.
  • How to Get Your Kids in Shape: At a minimum, parents should be engaging their adolescents in at least 60 minutes of activity most days of the week. Having an adolescent do yard work or walk the family dog around the block can add activity to their day. Limiting the amount of video games and television time as well as involving yourself or your teen's peers in physical activities with your teen can help them to lead a healthier lifestyle.
  • Ten Outdooor Activities for Teenagers: Not only is it important to get teens to spend time outdoors, but it is also crucial that they enjoy this time so that they will continue to do it in the future. This link provides a list of ten wilderness-related activities that teens can enjoy along with step-by-step directions and space for teachers to note how they could improve each activity next time.
  • Outdoor Games: Although outdoor games are not a new thing, several new games have been created specifically for teenagers. This link provides a long list of fun and unheard-of games to get adolescents outdoors and active with friends or family. Changing up old games and bringing in fresh new ideas can be a great start to getting your teen interested and involved.
  • 100 Fun Things for Teens to Do in the Summer: Typically, a large reason why teens aren't spending time outside and are on their phones all the time is because it takes "too much work" for them to come up with ideas for things to do. This list of 100 simple, easy, and almost all free activities should end that excuse. Teens can use this as a checklist and complete at least one activity each day. After a few days, they should start looking forward to checking something off of their list.
  • Benefits of Summer Camp: It is said by both parents and youth development experts that children need a large variety of experiences over the course of their lives to develop positive behaviors and feel connected to others. This article explains in simple terms the positive outcomes that can come from sending a child to summer camp and how it can help them grow and develop.
  • Exercise and Adolescents: While having fun outside is an important part of keeping adolescents entertained and staying outside, this is only part of the reason why teens should get outdoors and get moving more often. On this page, find a list of ideas for activities that teens can do for exercise outdoors as well as a list of health and fitness benefits that are directly tied to regular exercise.

Find more about the author: Kim Hart