Editorial: Drop the video controller, kid

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 9, 2007

Televisions, computers and video games are major factors in a nationwide decline in outdoor activities among teenagers. Whether it is playing a pickup game of basketball, hiking backcountry trails, going for a bicycle ride or even walking their dogs, studies show teenagers would rather be inactive and indoors with electronic gadgets.

What can parents do?

The best plan is to set an example. The more active the parents, the more active the children. Ask them to go do outdoor activities with you. Play catch. Fish. Ride bikes. Swing on park swings. You know the saying: Start &8217;em young.

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Another good move is to make sure they are involved in something. Albert Lea has plenty of these activities: water ski club, ice skating club, park-and-rec fun, YMCA, youth hockey, soccer and baseball, among others. Kids still like to see their friends, so starting them in activities at a young age gets them going.

Of course, it&8217;s not the young ones that studies say are losing interest. It&8217;s the teenagers.

Don&8217;t buy them video games systems. Buying them is like saying: Be a lazy kid.

Limit their computer time. Keep computers out of bedrooms, even if you don&8217;t have the Internet. Ask them about their online activity. Keep televisions out of the bedrooms, too. Make sure you as parents don&8217;t watch TV all the time. Encourage teens to pick a few shows and allow them to watch only those shows. Don&8217;t allow them to blankly watch unending TV programs.

Get them to appreciate nature by going camping, fishing and hiking with them. Let them touch slimy creatures. Explain the different kind of trees or the types of clouds.

Talk to your teenagers about physical fitness and its importance in a well-balanced life. Run with them. Walk with them. Bike with them. Shoot baskets. Skip stones. These are often the best time for important discussions and life lessons.

You can make a difference in a young person&8217;s health.