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Why Outdoors Activities Are Essential for Children and Teens: Nature vs Technology

Safe Teens and Techonology

Technology definitely has a time and place in our schools and we owe it to our pupils to teach them proper ways to use their devices for learning and communicating. However, we can also probably agree there are some downsides to all of this tech in our student’s lives.

Technology which opens our students up to a variety of pitfalls of dangers that range anywhere from cyberbullying to the health consequences of inactive lifestyles.

As educators, it’s no great surprise today’s technology is changing the way we monitor our children, communicate, interact, and engage with our students and, everyday we are on the frontlines watching and coping with the consequences as they unfold.

This makes it essential that we slow down and re-evaluate the role we allow technology to play in our classrooms. This is especially vital when we consider teens are digitally connected for 9 hours everyday! Yes, that is almost the same amount of time spent in school. If that statistic isn’t jaw dropping enough, we need to factor in that their younger counterparts clock in over 6 daily hours and children younger than 8 net nearly 3 hours a day!.

This data inevitably means that our children are missing out on important opportunities and activities to interact, explore, observe, and learn about the world around them. Instead of building new relationships or mastering valuable life skills, our boys and girls are inevitably living a distracted life. This is difficult for us to face, because we can only control what our students do during the hours we have them entrusted to our care. One simple way we can counteract too much technology is by examining the importance of outdoors activities and find ways for kids to strike a happy balance.     

Why Outdoor Activities are Essential for Kids

Over the course of the last few decades, a lot has changed in education as we strive to include more technology and teach for the test. While this has helped push in more STEAM activities and HAL opportunities, it has also led to a significant decrease in the amount of time allocated for recess, physical education, and the fine arts. To put this trend into perspective, according to the National Wildlife Foundation, today’s children are spending approximately half the amount of time outside than we did when we were kids.

Listed below is a small sampling of why outdoor activities are essential for kids:

  • Poor indoor air quality is common in many schools. Fresh air is healthy!
  • There is an increased risk for obesity, hypertension, and more that comes with reduced exercise and sedentary lifestyles.
  • Green spaces have been proven to reduce stress and anxiety levels in children- and even adults. 
  • The outdoors provide exposure to dirt, germs, and bacteria which boost a child’s immune system.
  • Activities like gardening in the outdoors can help students develop observational skills and learn science concepts.
  • Sunlight provides beneficial vitamin D which can help energy levels and strengthen bones.
  • Adequate exposure to sunlight also helps set a child’s circadian rhythms, which will help them develop a proper sleep schedule to enhance social and educational performance in school.
  • Outdoor activities and green spaces naturally improve many of the symptoms related to ADHD in children.

The Dangers of Too Much Technology

The reasons why outdoor activities are essential for kids is pretty solid, but we can’t overlook the possible dangers associated with too much technology. Our students’ devices might be entertaining, but there are real reasons educators need to be concerned. The following list shows why we need to help students find a healthy balance with technology in their lives:

  • Direct links between overuse of social media and increases in depression, feelings of low self-esteem, and anxiety have been documented in young people.
  • Devices can interrupt or cause distraction during key learning times in a classroom.
  • Our kids might be set up for a lifetime of joint and neck pain if they don’t embrace proper ergonomics.
  • Digital devices and fast paced stimuli can actually physically alter a child’s brain.
  • The glow from our screens and constant notifications can disrupt circadian rhythms and sleep schedules leading to poor sleep.
  • Overusing technology limits one-on-one communication opportunities for kids which may inhibit relationship and social skills development.

Looking Forward…

Technology is obviously here to stay and we can’t feasibly ban all devices from our schools. However, a little mindfulness and proactive planning can go a long way. With a little creative thinking  we can help students find a healthy balance with technology and nature.

What are your some ways you handle technology versus nature in your school?

Technology definitely has a time and place in our schools and we owe it to our pupils to teach them proper ways to use their devices for learning and communicating. However, we can also probably agree there are some downsides to all of this tech in our student’s lives.

Technology which opens our students up to a variety of pitfalls of dangers that range anywhere from cyberbullying to the health consequences of inactive lifestyles.

As educators, it’s no great surprise today’s technology is changing the way we monitor our children, communicate, interact, and engage with our students and, everyday we are on the frontlines watching and coping with the consequences as they unfold.

This makes it essential that we slow down and re-evaluate the role we allow technology to play in our classrooms. This is especially vital when we consider teens are digitally connected for 9 hours everyday! Yes, that is almost the same amount of time spent in school. If that statistic isn’t jaw dropping enough, we need to factor in that their younger counterparts clock in over 6 daily hours and children younger than 8 net nearly 3 hours a day!.

This data inevitably means that our children are missing out on important opportunities and activities to interact, explore, observe, and learn about the world around them. Instead of building new relationships or mastering valuable life skills, our boys and girls are inevitably living a distracted life. This is difficult for us to face, because we can only control what our students do during the hours we have them entrusted to our care. One simple way we can counteract too much technology is by examining the importance of outdoors activities and find ways for kids to strike a happy balance.     

Why Outdoor Activities are Essential for Kids

Over the course of the last few decades, a lot has changed in education as we strive to include more technology and teach for the test. While this has helped push in more STEAM activities and HAL opportunities, it has also led to a significant decrease in the amount of time allocated for recess, physical education, and the fine arts. To put this trend into perspective, according to the National Wildlife Foundation, today’s children are spending approximately half the amount of time outside than we did when we were kids.

Listed below is a small sampling of why outdoor activities are essential for kids:

  • Poor indoor air quality is common in many schools. Fresh air is healthy!
  • There is an increased risk for obesity, hypertension, and more that comes with reduced exercise and sedentary lifestyles.
  • Green spaces have been proven to reduce stress and anxiety levels in children- and even adults. 
  • The outdoors provide exposure to dirt, germs, and bacteria which boost a child’s immune system.
  • Activities like gardening in the outdoors can help students develop observational skills and learn science concepts.
  • Sunlight provides beneficial vitamin D which can help energy levels and strengthen bones.
  • Adequate exposure to sunlight also helps set a child’s circadian rhythms, which will help them develop a proper sleep schedule to enhance social and educational performance in school.
  • Outdoor activities and green spaces naturally improve many of the symptoms related to ADHD in children.

The Dangers of Too Much Technology

The reasons why outdoor activities are essential for kids is pretty solid, but we can’t overlook the possible dangers associated with too much technology. Our students’ devices might be entertaining, but there are real reasons educators need to be concerned. The following list shows why we need to help students find a healthy balance with technology in their lives:

  • Direct links between overuse of social media and increases in depression, feelings of low self-esteem, and anxiety have been documented in young people.
  • Devices can interrupt or cause distraction during key learning times in a classroom.
  • Our kids might be set up for a lifetime of joint and neck pain if they don’t embrace proper ergonomics.
  • Digital devices and fast paced stimuli can actually physically alter a child’s brain.
  • The glow from our screens and constant notifications can disrupt circadian rhythms and sleep schedules leading to poor sleep.
  • Overusing technology limits one-on-one communication opportunities for kids which may inhibit relationship and social skills development.

Looking Forward…

Technology is obviously here to stay and we can’t feasibly ban all devices from our schools. However, a little mindfulness and proactive planning can go a long way. With a little creative thinking  we can help students find a healthy balance with technology and nature.

What are your some ways you handle technology versus nature in your school?

How to Know What to Trust Online

Finding fun games, learning cool new things, and talking to your friends is what the internet is for. But just like in real life, you have to be smart and safe. It might seem silly to think about safety when you’re on the web alone in your room, but it’s important to make sure you’re trusting the right sites and people.

Unfortunately, some bad people on the internet may try to scam you out of money or your personal identity, which can cause a lot of problems. You might also pick up viruses or malware, which will load your computer with advertisements or misleading links.

(This article is directed at kids, but parents can pick up some knowledge too).

Ask your parents what’s safe

If you and your parents discuss ahead of time which sites and activities are okay, you’ll run into far fewer problems. For an easy way to stay on the right sites, ask your parents to make a folder with links to all your favorite websites saved inside. That way, you won’t accidentally go somewhere else.

This applies when you’re at school too. Just because your parents approve of something doesn’t mean your teachers will. Schools are usually a little more watchful of websites and may even have blockers for specific sites or searches.

Social media and apps

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media sites can be a great way to connect with friends and people with similar interests, but it’s also where a lot of trolls set up camp. Keep your profile private and your circle small.

When it comes to apps, you can usually spot a bad one by how it’s advertised and how often ads pop up. Sometimes you can make in-app purchases and upgrade to remove ads, but you should get these approved by your parents.

Don’t talk to strangers

You’ve probably heard this before, but the easiest way to stay safe online is by only friending, following, and talking with people you know in real life. Although you can stay mostly anonymous in chat rooms, it’s important to remember that others can, too, and a stranger can easily pretend to be someone they’re not. With this in mind, it’s worth it to approach every chat with caution.

Sometimes a stranger will seem friendly, but then they’ll ask for something in return. Don’t click any links they send, and don’t give out any of your personal information. What counts as personal information? Things like your name, family, address, school, or anything else that can help them identify you.

If you do plan to visit stranger-filled sites, make sure to check with your parents and ask them if anything seems fishy.

Don’t reply to people with weird usernames

A friendly “Hi” with a heart emoji might seem harmless, but when it comes from a username like puppycutie88398, it’s probably a sign that it’s spam (messages meant to scam people). You can tell a username is fishy because it has random numbers, usually combined with two common words or names.

Strange usernames and strangely-phrased messages are a good indicator of spam. These spammers could be trying to sell you something (and perhaps steal your money by selling a fake product), steal and misuse your personal information, or build a friendship initially order to scam you later.

Either way, sometimes simply responding gives these people (or sometimes robots) a sign that they might be able to hack into your information, and that could lead to more requests. Ignore these messages altogether and avoid future problems.

Set up privacy settings

When you take the time to make sure your online profiles are private, strangers are less likely to bug you. Sometimes it might not even seem like a big deal to post a picture online of you and your friends, but an online predator might catch on to what schools or parks you hang out at.

Parental controls are less about taking away your freedom and more about protecting you. If something that’s blocked seems fine to you, ask your parents if they approve of it and they can remove the block.

Turn off location settings

One of the easiest ways to make sure you’re not being tracked, or that a post won’t reveal where you are, is to turn off location settings. Most of the time, apps and social media will ask for permission to share this info first, but it’s always good to double-check your settings.

Additional tips:

  • Popular apps are usually safer by nature, but with more people comes more potential for problems. Even if an app itself is safe, the users may not be, so use caution no matter which app you’re using.
  • Any time you have to put in personal information beyond a username or email for an account, get a parent involved. You should avoid putting in your address, payment information, or any other personal info on your own.
  • Make sure to turn on safe search filters for Google and other search engines, especially when looking for images. Some questionable content may come up just because it has a similar name to what you’re searching for, so safe search filters can help weed out things you don’t want to see.

Finding fun games, learning cool new things, and talking to your friends is what the internet is for. But just like in real life, you have to be smart and safe. It might seem silly to think about safety when you’re on the web alone in your room, but it’s important to make sure you’re trusting the right sites and people.

Unfortunately, some bad people on the internet may try to scam you out of money or your personal identity, which can cause a lot of problems. You might also pick up viruses or malware, which will load your computer with advertisements or misleading links.

(This article is directed at kids, but parents can pick up some knowledge too).

Ask your parents what’s safe

If you and your parents discuss ahead of time which sites and activities are okay, you’ll run into far fewer problems. For an easy way to stay on the right sites, ask your parents to make a folder with links to all your favorite websites saved inside. That way, you won’t accidentally go somewhere else.

This applies when you’re at school too. Just because your parents approve of something doesn’t mean your teachers will. Schools are usually a little more watchful of websites and may even have blockers for specific sites or searches.

Social media and apps

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media sites can be a great way to connect with friends and people with similar interests, but it’s also where a lot of trolls set up camp. Keep your profile private and your circle small.

When it comes to apps, you can usually spot a bad one by how it’s advertised and how often ads pop up. Sometimes you can make in-app purchases and upgrade to remove ads, but you should get these approved by your parents.

Don’t talk to strangers

You’ve probably heard this before, but the easiest way to stay safe online is by only friending, following, and talking with people you know in real life. Although you can stay mostly anonymous in chat rooms, it’s important to remember that others can, too, and a stranger can easily pretend to be someone they’re not. With this in mind, it’s worth it to approach every chat with caution.

Sometimes a stranger will seem friendly, but then they’ll ask for something in return. Don’t click any links they send, and don’t give out any of your personal information. What counts as personal information? Things like your name, family, address, school, or anything else that can help them identify you.

If you do plan to visit stranger-filled sites, make sure to check with your parents and ask them if anything seems fishy.

Don’t reply to people with weird usernames

A friendly “Hi” with a heart emoji might seem harmless, but when it comes from a username like puppycutie88398, it’s probably a sign that it’s spam (messages meant to scam people). You can tell a username is fishy because it has random numbers, usually combined with two common words or names.

Strange usernames and strangely-phrased messages are a good indicator of spam. These spammers could be trying to sell you something (and perhaps steal your money by selling a fake product), steal and misuse your personal information, or build a friendship initially order to scam you later.

Either way, sometimes simply responding gives these people (or sometimes robots) a sign that they might be able to hack into your information, and that could lead to more requests. Ignore these messages altogether and avoid future problems.

Set up privacy settings

When you take the time to make sure your online profiles are private, strangers are less likely to bug you. Sometimes it might not even seem like a big deal to post a picture online of you and your friends, but an online predator might catch on to what schools or parks you hang out at.

Parental controls are less about taking away your freedom and more about protecting you. If something that’s blocked seems fine to you, ask your parents if they approve of it and they can remove the block.

Turn off location settings

One of the easiest ways to make sure you’re not being tracked, or that a post won’t reveal where you are, is to turn off location settings. Most of the time, apps and social media will ask for permission to share this info first, but it’s always good to double-check your settings.

Additional tips:

  • Popular apps are usually safer by nature, but with more people comes more potential for problems. Even if an app itself is safe, the users may not be, so use caution no matter which app you’re using.
  • Any time you have to put in personal information beyond a username or email for an account, get a parent involved. You should avoid putting in your address, payment information, or any other personal info on your own.
  • Make sure to turn on safe search filters for Google and other search engines, especially when looking for images. Some questionable content may come up just because it has a similar name to what you’re searching for, so safe search filters can help weed out things you don’t want to see.

What a Black Hole Discovery Can Teach Us

First Ever Black Hole Pic

As long as we walk this earth, one thing we should all discover is this. The more you know, the more you know you don’t know. That’s a quote from Aristotle, the Greek philosopher who lived over 2300 years ago. It basically means that no matter how much we learn in school as kids and later in life as adults, we’ll find there’s always more to learn about everything.

If we decide that we know everything there is to know and stop being opening to learning, we become ignorant and miss out so much that our wonderful world has to teach us.

As smart as Aristotle was, many things have been discovered in the hundreds of years since he lived. Many great philosophers and scientists have followed, and each one as built upon the knowledge of people who have gone before them.

The First Image of a Black Hole

Recently, the world’s greatest scientists of our day were finally able to create a real picture of a block hole. It was an amazing achievement and incredible discovery.  It confirmed many theories about the existence of black holes and how they work. It also proved that Albert Einstein was right about his Theory of General Relativity regarding the relationship between space and time.

The image also proved that recent scientific calculations about black holes were correct. This discovery, however, is more than a story about the advancement of technology that allowed humans to see an actual black hole for the first time. It’s also a story of how many scientists from all over the world worked together for many years to achieve this great feat.

For one, just to make the now famous black hole photograph took many observatories from all over the world working together to create one virtual telescope the size of our earth.

How Far Away is the Photographed Black Hole?

The black hole is located in the center of galaxy M87, which is about 55 million light years from earth. This means that light traveling from that point in space takes 55 million years to be seen on earth.

Think about it. The image we see of the block hole is like looking into the past. It’s light that started a journey to planet earth millions of years ago. Light from our sun takes an average of 8 minutes and 20 seconds.

The black hole has been named Powehi, which means ‘adorned fathomless dark creation’. Black holes have always fascinated scientists and students of astronomy because a black hole actually isn’t a hole. It’s a place in space containing a lot of matter closely packed together. It has accumulated so much gravity, that not even light can escape it. Therefore, it’s always black, even if it sucked our sun into it. And the black hole Powehi could easily do that because it’s about the same size as our entire solar system.

More Discoveries Yet to Come

While the first image of a real black hole confirms many theories that were calculated using mathematics, (see NASA Education’s Black Hole Math the Students), scientists are the first to point out that this great discovery is the beginning of many more discoveries yet to come.

Producing the black hole image took over 200 scientists working together from all over the world. They all would be the first to tell you that as much as we know about the Universe, there is so much more we don’t know.

The lessons we learn from the first image of a black hole are many. One important lesson is to always keep learning. You never know what amazing discovery you will find.

As long as we walk this earth, one thing we should all discover is this. The more you know, the more you know you don’t know. That’s a quote from Aristotle, the Greek philosopher who lived over 2300 years ago. It basically means that no matter how much we learn in school as kids and later in life as adults, we’ll find there’s always more to learn about everything.

If we decide that we know everything there is to know and stop being opening to learning, we become ignorant and miss out so much that our wonderful world has to teach us.

As smart as Aristotle was, many things have been discovered in the hundreds of years since he lived. Many great philosophers and scientists have followed, and each one as built upon the knowledge of people who have gone before them.

The First Image of a Black Hole

Recently, the world’s greatest scientists of our day were finally able to create a real picture of a block hole. It was an amazing achievement and incredible discovery.  It confirmed many theories about the existence of black holes and how they work. It also proved that Albert Einstein was right about his Theory of General Relativity regarding the relationship between space and time.

The image also proved that recent scientific calculations about black holes were correct. This discovery, however, is more than a story about the advancement of technology that allowed humans to see an actual black hole for the first time. It’s also a story of how many scientists from all over the world worked together for many years to achieve this great feat.

For one, just to make the now famous black hole photograph took many observatories from all over the world working together to create one virtual telescope the size of our earth.

How Far Away is the Photographed Black Hole?

The black hole is located in the center of galaxy M87, which is about 55 million light years from earth. This means that light traveling from that point in space takes 55 million years to be seen on earth.

Think about it. The image we see of the block hole is like looking into the past. It’s light that started a journey to planet earth millions of years ago. Light from our sun takes an average of 8 minutes and 20 seconds.

The black hole has been named Powehi, which means ‘adorned fathomless dark creation’. Black holes have always fascinated scientists and students of astronomy because a black hole actually isn’t a hole. It’s a place in space containing a lot of matter closely packed together. It has accumulated so much gravity, that not even light can escape it. Therefore, it’s always black, even if it sucked our sun into it. And the black hole Powehi could easily do that because it’s about the same size as our entire solar system.

More Discoveries Yet to Come

While the first image of a real black hole confirms many theories that were calculated using mathematics, (see NASA Education’s Black Hole Math the Students), scientists are the first to point out that this great discovery is the beginning of many more discoveries yet to come.

Producing the black hole image took over 200 scientists working together from all over the world. They all would be the first to tell you that as much as we know about the Universe, there is so much more we don’t know.

The lessons we learn from the first image of a black hole are many. One important lesson is to always keep learning. You never know what amazing discovery you will find.

Being Better Means Saying No

To many people, being “better” means smiling all the time, being quiet and polite and doing all their chores without being asked. You may picture “being good” as going to school, saying please and thank you and never doing anything to hurt another person. It means being sweet and agreeable.

Well, those actions are part of being a better person. Many times, to be a “better person” you need to say: NO.

Life can be so easy if you always say yes. Yes, you’ll skip out of gym class. Yes, you’ll try to hit passing cars with rocks. Yes, you’ll see if you can take that flash drive without paying for it. By saying yes, you go with the flow. You follow the lead of someone else. You know what you are doing is wrong, but when a group of friends is staring at you, waiting for your answer, being “good” can be hard.

Saying NO can sound mean. Saying NO can make your friends angry. They might not even want to be friends anymore. That can make YOU angry or sad. Being a good person sometimes means standing up for what is right, even when everyone else seems against you. Being good means saying NO.

Saying no can be hard. As your friends are looking at you, saying no can be the hardest thing you will ever do. The problem is that saying yes can be even harder—but not at the time. After all, when you say yes, everyone laughs, nods and slaps you on the back.

But by saying yes to your friends, you could put yourself in danger. You could end up in trouble with your parents, your school or even the police. Saying yes to a cigarette or pot joint might not seem like a big deal, but yes could lead to an addiction that takes years to beat and costs thousands of dollars. Saying yes can hurt your health and cost you years of life.

Saying no can sting. It can make people yell at you. It can make you seem like a chicken when in fact saying no can take all the strength in your bones. People talk about being better people—and saying NO can feel like the wrong way to do it. That’s a mistake.

Saying NO tells the world that you are you are able to think for yourself. It tells the world that you are working hard to be a good person, even when being a good person can hurt.

Talk to your parents about saying NO. Talk to your friends about how hard it can be to stand up to bullies by saying NO. By learning early on when to say that little word, you are on your way to being a better person.

 

To many people, being “better” means smiling all the time, being quiet and polite and doing all their chores without being asked. You may picture “being good” as going to school, saying please and thank you and never doing anything to hurt another person. It means being sweet and agreeable.

Well, those actions are part of being a better person. Many times, to be a “better person” you need to say: NO.

Life can be so easy if you always say yes. Yes, you’ll skip out of gym class. Yes, you’ll try to hit passing cars with rocks. Yes, you’ll see if you can take that flash drive without paying for it. By saying yes, you go with the flow. You follow the lead of someone else. You know what you are doing is wrong, but when a group of friends is staring at you, waiting for your answer, being “good” can be hard.

Saying NO can sound mean. Saying NO can make your friends angry. They might not even want to be friends anymore. That can make YOU angry or sad. Being a good person sometimes means standing up for what is right, even when everyone else seems against you. Being good means saying NO.

Saying no can be hard. As your friends are looking at you, saying no can be the hardest thing you will ever do. The problem is that saying yes can be even harder—but not at the time. After all, when you say yes, everyone laughs, nods and slaps you on the back.

But by saying yes to your friends, you could put yourself in danger. You could end up in trouble with your parents, your school or even the police. Saying yes to a cigarette or pot joint might not seem like a big deal, but yes could lead to an addiction that takes years to beat and costs thousands of dollars. Saying yes can hurt your health and cost you years of life.

Saying no can sting. It can make people yell at you. It can make you seem like a chicken when in fact saying no can take all the strength in your bones. People talk about being better people—and saying NO can feel like the wrong way to do it. That’s a mistake.

Saying NO tells the world that you are you are able to think for yourself. It tells the world that you are working hard to be a good person, even when being a good person can hurt.

Talk to your parents about saying NO. Talk to your friends about how hard it can be to stand up to bullies by saying NO. By learning early on when to say that little word, you are on your way to being a better person.