Screen off, Go play outside!

By Josh M.

Technology has had a substantial change since the 1900’s to now, not only has its growth been linear some would argue it’s been exponential. The discovery and manufacturing of mobile devices, personal computers, software, and equipment have elevated the accessibility to information instantaneously across the globe, therefore, elevating, even more opportunities for innovation and technological possibilities. With all this accessibility to information, devices and media there have been many positive impacts on the population as well as many negative repercussions.

Specifically, my article will focus on the positive and negative impacts of technology on youth in the years of 2000 to 2016. First is accessibility, with technology being so widely accessible, youth have been able to learn and understand technology at a much faster rate than those from previous generations. Youth today are showing their grandparents how to answer emails, access programming and interact through media, the primary reason being because of the already large amounts of screen youth have access to their everyday lives. This means that youth today have a much better understanding of technology and are ahead in their education of software and tech devices. On the other hand, youth have also become dependent on technology and ignoring important learning and the basics of simple task management that don’t involve technology such as cooking basic food, social interaction skills, differentiating between right, wrong, true and false information. Technology has replaced the need to go out and explore, experience and discover, therefore limiting youth to their home. This has limited social growth, mental and physical development in youth that outdoor interaction would otherwise cultivate their personal growth and talents.

My personal experience with technology as a child involved superhero video games and movies, I remember looking forward to the new batman cartoon movies or playing my spider-man game on my game system after school. After spending more than a couple of hours on video games and tv my father would then chase me out of the house and encourage me to go play outside, thankfully I did, because looking back now I realize that I really did have more enjoyment playing outside then watching a screen.

The Canadian sedentary guidelines list that children should only spend two hours per day maximum of sedentary behavior but statistics have consistently stated that children have been exceeding far more than the guidelines requirements, and the main reason being access to technology. According to the 2016 The Participation Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth a total of 76% of 5- to 19-year-olds in Canada report watching tv, personal computer access or video games, and reading during after school period (based on a subsample of the 2014-15 CANPLAY, CFLRI) (ParticipAction, 2016).

In conclusion, technology has been a tremendous impact on the world and has benefited society greatly, however it lacks the fundamental opportunities that provide youth with important personal and developmental growth opportunities that technology cannot provide. This issue could be addressed by limiting youth access to devices and making them focus instead on tech free environments experiences, or another option would be to use device access as a reward for accomplishing the requirements parents have set for them.


ParticipAction. (2016). Participation. Retrieved from

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3 Responses to Screen off, Go play outside!

  1. Bestey31 says:

    Great article and many good points! I agree with you on the point made about youth teaching their grandparents how to use the technology that is available today. It seems like technology is always advancing and youth spend far too much time making sure they don’t fall behind the times. In relation, I find youth today are judged largely on the technical materials in their lives. For example, a child with an smartphone versus one with a flip phone are both subject to potentially positive and negative experiences based things that hold no true value. I can relate in the way that I had an old phone longer than most, but was only ever poked at by my friends whereas this could be far more extreme in other cases. Once, or if the value ever shifts away from who has the cooler phone, the newest tablet, or the latest game system, I feel youth will gain more respect for one another and development in a more positive way.

    Another point that came to mind while reading this article is the ongoing development of technology and how this affects apps. Apps get used for all kinds of everyday tasks, and health apps are no different. I feel that these apps, despite being used with good intentions, offer generally poor or skewed feedback and create false ideas in their users. I feel apps that offer healthy activity suggestions and information about health provide better resources than those where the user simply enters data. With using these apps, it is possible to turn screen time into a positive or constructive use of time. It is just important that adults and youth alike are all educated on these apps and learn how to use them effectively. This counter acts the screen off idea, but I feel it is important to have some screen time when it is used properly. As a kid, my dad would let me sit behind a screen as long as I wanted, but only on days when it was raining outside. It was a comprised that I loved when I was not able to go outside. On the other hand, I equally enjoyed outside activities so I felt this was a good way to manage both sides.

  2. Alex Watts says:

    Solid Post, Josh.
    I agree with the majority of what you’ve said here. I can remember my first screen device that I ever owned, my first ever GameBoy Color. Whatever year that Christmas was, it was a good one. I remember playing Pokemon blue, red, yellow, Donkey Kong Country, all the classic games. However, not long after Santa (haha) got me that GameBoy, did my parents find that I was spending much less time playing with legos around the house or even playing outside. This was when my parents realized the issues surrounding too much screen time for youth. I was still playing hockey a couple of times a week throughout the winter, and playing soccer in the summer months. However, my ‘active free play’ time seriously diminished, as I had no interest in using my imagination outside, or building a ‘sweet kicker for the GT’ outside on the hill. Slowly but surely, I became hooked. My parents realized what was happening, that’s around the time we started going for family walks down our road most evenings. Simply to get another bit of time away from the screens, and have an excuse to actually talk and converse with one another. To this day, Ashley (girlfriend) and I try to go on walks at the Killarney Lodge a couple of times a week, mostly whenever our schedules align. During this walk, we make sure to leave our phones and devices in the car, in order to promote more face-to-face conversation. Technology is extremely helpful, and I couldn’t imagine getting through school without it. That being said, it is seriously taking away from the experience of being a youth from today’s youth! We need to learn how to spread the idea that too much technology and screen time is a bad thing! Unfortunately, I can’t see this happening any time soon, not as long as video game producers are allowed to market directly to youth.

    Alex W.

  3. robbiepark95 says:

    Awesome Job Josh!

    I agree completely than youth (even young adults) are too busy keeping up with technology as opposed to learning all the aspects of each device they have and sharing it with their peers. My grandparents took it upon themselves (thankfully) to take some IT classes and smartphone classes in order to come up to speed with this fast paced technological society we are a part of. Like Bess had mentioned, I feel that youth are judged based on what technological device (lets talk smartphones for the sake of this example) they have. I was probably only one of the few people in the world that had a brick phone (other than my gran who still does) up until my second year of university. Partially because i seen nothing wrong with it. The job was to send and receive texts and play the odd game of SNAKE (awesome game) in class when I got bored. I turned to the iPhone, which was a great choice as it allowed me easy access to the internet and I could iMessage (basically free texting between iPhone users). I feel like it is the way the social world is evolving, around the use of technology and the wonders that each new invention creates.

    I loved that you brought up the fact of youth not having basic simple task management. Some youth would rather spend hours video gaming and not eat, because cooking food took too much time out of their online game…which was somehow more important than eating? Maybe we should start to follow the Disney Pixar movie WALL-E, where a click of a button and a meal appears in front of you? That is another debate, but I feel that is a point worth making.

    One final thing I should mention is that the populations obesity rate has increased from 10% (1972) to 28% (present). I found these eye-opening statistics yesterday when Dr. Dean Kriellars spoke at the NB Sport Summit. This was a real eye-opener, and I know this comment is late (sorry Charlene!), but I felt that there would be some useful and essential information from this “GURU” of physical literacy.

    Well Done mate!

    Robbie P

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