Daily Archives: July 23, 2012

Yes, Kids Watch a Lot of TV, but We Shouldn’t Give Up on Getting Them Outside

The scariest thing about television may not be the array of monster movies lined up on basic cable this month.

A new report from Common Sense Media (PDF ) finds that more than half of all American children between the ages of 0-8 now have access to one of the newer mobile devices at home, and nearly one-third have a TV in their bedroom. Overall, it indicates that screen time’ is higher than ever for kids.

As if by providence alone, the American Academy of Pediatrics warned last week about the need to beat back this very trend, formally cautioning parents to limit their young kids’ screen timeand even the amount of time they spend watching TV near their kids.

But the former study concentrates largely on the breakdown of what kinds of media kids are using, and how they split up demographically. It spends a lot of timing parsing out childhood use of mobile apps and equal access to TV. It certainly doesn’t mention screen alternatives.

And the latter warning, while commendable, actually represents a softened stance from a similar 1999 recommendation:

Dr. Brown said the new policy was less restrictive because “the Academy took a lot of flak for the first one, from parents, from industry, and even from pediatricians asking, ‘What planet do you live on?’ ” The recommendations are an attempt to be more realistic, given that, between TVs, computers, iPads and smartphones, households may have 10 or more screens.

So while we learn more all the time about the scale and toll of the indoor (and screen-bound) childhood epidemic, many seem to be conceding defeat—or at least admitting that prying kids away from TVs, computers and the like is simply too unrealistic.

Risks of (and Alternatives to) a Screen-Bound Childhood

We shouldn’t be so quick to throw in the towel. As covered here and elsewhere, couch potato lifestyle can lead to serious health problems (among them an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, nearsightedness and vitamin D deficiency); concentration and creativity deficiencies; and a weaker connection to the natural world.

Children who play outside are healthier, more creative in their play and show better concentration. Sometimes ignored but no less important, research (PDF) has shown that outdoor activities like hiking or camping can positively influence a kid’s attitudes toward nature (and environmentally conscious behavior) when they grow up.

Instead of screen time (or at least balancing moderate screen time), encourage your kids to do something outdoors the next time they say they’re bored.

Wild Turkey Federation to Fund Kansas Habitat Projects

More than $56,000 appropriated for 2012

The Kansas Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) has announced appropriation of $56,200 for Kansas wildlife habitat projects in 2012 through the organization’s Super Fund. These projects help fund everything from grassland and forest restoration to education outreach.

“I am pleased to say that, through the hard work of our volunteers, we were able to provide funding to all project requests this year, our largest Super Fund ever,” said Jared W. McJunkin, NWTF Western Region conservation field supervisor. “Our members, supporters, and volunteers deserve a lot of credit for their hard work and support to make this happen.”

Projects funded by the Kansas Super Fund proposals for 2012 include the following:

♦ Clinton Wildlife Area — $3,000 for Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) continued grassland restoration efforts;

♦ Kansas public lands forest management — $18,000 to be used to secure outside partner funding match for a Public Lands Forestry Initiative;

♦ Riparian hardwood restoration — $5,000 to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for riparian bottomland restoration on the Flint Hills National Wildlife Refuge;

♦ Walk-In Hunter Access (WIHA) Program enhancement — $5,500 to KDWPT to create a special incentive to increase new enrollment in the spring WIHA program in northcentral Kansas;

♦ Fall River Wildlife Area — $5,700 to KDWPT for a new forest management project on FRWA;

♦ Woodson Wildlife Area — $4,000 to KDWPT for continued restoration of 400 acres of native grass savannah;

♦ Leavenworth State Fishing Lake and Wildlife Area — $2,500 to KDWPT for continued removal of eastern redcedar from grasslands;

♦ Douglas State Fishing Lake and Wildlife Area — $3,000 to KDWPT for continued establishment of forest openings;

♦ Pottawatomie State Fishing Lake #1 — $2,000 to KDWPT to create/enhance forest openings;

♦ 1st Pioneer Upland Chapter — $500 to the NWTF Chapter in Iola to conduct a prescribed fire educational day in partnership with KDWPT;

♦ Big Hill WA — $2,000 to KDWPT for grasslands restoration;

♦ Regional Biologist Program — $5,000;

♦ 1st Pioneer Upland Chapter — $1,250 for support of two National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) kits for area schools;

♦ Western Kansas NWTF Chapter — $1,250 for purchasing a NASP kit for the local school; and

♦ 2011 Kansas ECO-Meet — $1,800 for continued support of the Kansas State ECO-Meet.

In addition, funding for 2012 includes $20,000 for the NWTF Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics, and Sportsmanship (JAKES); Women in the Outdoors and Wheelin’ Sportsmen events; local and state scholarship programs; and Wild About Turkeys education boxes for schools and educators across the state.