When teens become inseparable from their screens they miss out on the feel-good benefits of being active.
Screen time isn’t unhealthy but being inactive is. It’s about getting the balance right and finding what they enjoy, so being active becomes a positive habit they get into for life.
Enjoying active apps
An easy win is realising that screen time can be active. Some of the most engaging gaming involves VR and AR. Your teen can run from zombies, capture creatures and dance their heart out. All in a virtual world where their whole body, and not just their thumbs, get a work out. The added bonus of augmented reality apps on their phone is that it gets them outdoors too.
Mucking around with mates
Playing a casual game outdoors with a few friends can be as good a laugh as gaming online. Backyard cricket, Ultimate Frisbee, a kick around in the park or a game of handball brings out the banter and gets fresh air in their lungs. And kit wise you’re looking at finding them balls and dustbins rather than a bag of pro gear.
Getting into working out
Personal fitness has become highly aspirational and the gym is the new place to meet. Your teen can do the 7-minute work out with mates or workout at the free gym in the park. They can take the odd class or get the fitness bug big time and get into CrossFit. Whatever their level, there’s a device or app that will help them track and motivate themselves to stay with it and get fit.
Becoming a team player
Being active is one of the many feel-good benefits of being part of a competitive team. Having a common goal and supporting your teammates through the ups and downs of competition, creates friendships and bonds that last for life. And then there’s winning! Nothing matches that feeling. Footy, netball, cricket, volleyball – find a sport and local team that appeals to your teen and watch them run with it.
Honing their solo skills
Taking up a one-on-one sport or hobby that hones their solo skills might appeal to your teen more than being on a team. Sports like cycling, skateboarding, table tennis, surfing and martial arts can be competitive or just for fun, and highly social or quietly meditative. Whatever your teen enjoys most. And these hobbies don’t have to be exy – you can get a decent second-hand bike or board for a bargain with a bit of online searching.
Taking up active leisure
It’s easy for teens to get stuck in a rut doing the same leisure activities with friends: chatting in a café, hanging at a mate’s house watching YouTube. Inspire them with ideas of fun things they can do free or cheaply locally that are a bit different. Like wall-climbing, kite flying, even body boarding and snorkelling if you live on the coast.
Gifting fun experiences
Some activity-based experiences are expensive, but they can make a great party or surprise birthday gift for your teen. From water-parks and adventure zip-wire to roller coasters and paintball. From winter ice-skating to ten-pin bowling and barefoot bowls. Experiences make memories and get everyone up and having fun.
Travelling by foot or peddle-power
Bicycling or walking places, where it’s safe to do so, saves a packet on public transport and gives your teen a great reason to be active. Not having to wait for the bus, or ask you for a lift, gives them more independence and more money in their pocket. Two things in short supply for most teens.
Getting your teen out and about
You’re not the only parent whose second job is being a chauffeur. Talk to the parents of your teen’s friends. See if you can get a roster going to get your kids to their sports venues or long distance one-off events. Sharing the load takes the weight off you and means your teen is more in the mood to go because they’re with their mates.
Equipping via eBay, Gumtree and Facebook
Okay, so ponies and green fees can’t be found cheaply on the internet, but a lot of second hand equipment can be. A little searching and some clever bidding can have your teen sporting some awesome gear for tens not hundreds of dollars. Get your haggling head on and get your teen out there having fun!