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Disconnect from Devices and Reconnect with Nature

Reset and Reconnect with family

Reset and Reconnect

Parenting Week 2021 is about celebrating parenting and will run from 18th – 22nd October this year. This year’s theme for Parenting Week, chosen by parents is Reset and Reconnect.

Parenting Week is about acknowledging and celebrating the role that parents play not only in their children’s lives but also in the wider community. Following the tough periods of public health restrictions, it is important that parents and families are encouraged to take the time to Reset and Reconnect. There is a huge value in parents taking time to hit the reset button, leaving behind the challenging year and focusing on the future. Reconnecting – with their family, friends, child’s school, faith group etc. will likely to lead to improved support networks for parents which will lead to better mental health and well being and reduced feelings of isolation.

This article is going to specifically focus on the benefits of disconnecting from devices and reconnecting with nature for the week.

Disconnect devices

Reset and Reconnect with familyTime spent online has increased dramatically in the 18 months. As a result of periods of lockdown, due to the public health situation, thousands of children were forced to stay at home and switch to remote learning, while social media use has also skyrocketed.

Based on anonymous online habits data provided by 60,000 families to Qustodio[1], website App visits in the UK were up by more than 100% in January 2021 compared with January 2020, spurred by YouTube, TikTok and BBC News. Additionally the average daily time spent on apps rose by 15%.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health[2] says that while there are no ‘safe’ amounts of screen time, and the amount of screen use that is right will vary
from family to family, screen time should be controlled. If it is not controlled, negative effects of screen time, include reducing your family’s sleep, loss of social connections and sore eyes.

Why reconnect with natureReset and Reconnect with family

With families spending so much time in front of screens over the last number of months, now is a great time to reconnect with nature. Many studies have found that there is a clear benefit for children of all ages, and adults to spend time in nature and that children who spend more time with nature are likely to be happier, more attentive, and less anxious than children who spend more time indoors.

The Child Mind Institute[3] has found that nature is good for a child’s mind as it helps them build confidence, promotes creativity and imagination, gets children moving, provides different stimulation, teaches responsibility and reduces stress and fatigue.

Ideas to reconnect with nature in NI

Autumn is the perfect time for children to enjoy the wonders of nature. The crisp autumn air, colourful crunchy leaves and weird and wonderful fungi mean it is an exciting season to go out and explore all that the natural world has to offer. We have some suggestions below of days to reconnect with nature for families in Northern Ireland:

Belfast Zoo – Belfast Zoological Gardens is located in North Belfast on the slopes of Cave Hill. This unique location provides unrivalled views across Belfast Lough with only a 15 minute drive from the city centre. The 55 acre site is home to more than 130 species, many of which are facing increasing dangers in their natural habitats.

Castle Coole – The family tracker packs are full of essentials to get you and your little ones closer to nature and explore the great outdoors at Castle Coole. It is the perfect time to start ticking off the National Trust’s 50 things to do before you are 11 ¾ activities.
The Argory – Cycling at the Argory provides a traffic and a pollution free, safe environment for children to learn a new skill.  Why not try the free-to-hire balance bikes. The balance bikes and helmets are available to hire from Visitor Reception. You don’t need to book anything as they will be given out on a first come first served basis, and the balance bikes are free to use – just turn up and get going.

Finally, remember that reconnecting with nature does not have to cost anything.  A nature walk at your local park on in your own local area can be just as fun. Pull on your wellies, grab a cosy scarf and head out to your local park with your family. During the autumn the woods come alive with colour, thanks to beautiful autumn leaves.  Why not have a ‘senses’ walk and focus on what you can hear, what you can see, what you can smell… gather different materials like fallen leaves to make a collage with at home.  Spending time together as a family, taking a break from the devices and reconnecting with nature will undoubtedly have many benefits for you and your family.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jan/22/children-health-screen-times-covid-crisis-sleep-eyesight-problems-digital-devices
[2] https://www.rcpch.ac.uk/sites/default/files/2018-12/rcpch_screen_time_parent_fact_sheet_-_final.pdf
[3] https://childmind.org/article/why-kids-need-to-spend-time-in-nature/