We recently came back from a weekend vacation and I was pleasantly surprised by the teens on the beach and at the pool that were enjoying the sun and their families and not on their phones. Proof it happens, albeit probably not without challenges.
Here are some tips to encourage and motivate teens to engage in more outdoor and offline activities.
1. Lead by Example: Show your enthusiasm for outdoor and offline activities by participating in them yourself. Teens are more likely to follow your lead if they see you enjoying these activities.
2. Family Outings: Plan family outings or adventures that involve outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, camping, fishing, birding or picnics. Spending quality time together outdoors can create lasting memories and make the experience more enjoyable for teens. You also never know what a teen may enjoy unless exposed to a variety of outdoor experiences. During your outings you can brainstorm some other great adventure ideas for the future.
3. Limit Screen Time: Set clear boundaries on screen time, especially during the school week. Create a family technology schedule that designates specific hours for screen use and encourages other activities during free time.
4. Encourage Hobbies: Help your teens discover and develop hobbies or interests that can be pursued offline. These could include sports, arts and crafts, gardening, or music. Support their interests by providing resources and opportunities. It is a lot easier if you start when they are young, but not impossible if you research together to find something that clicks!
5. Promote Sports and Physical Activities: Encourage your teens to participate in sports or physical activities that interest them. Whether it's a team sport, dance, or martial arts, physical activities can be a fun way to stay active and socialize with other teens.
6. Nature Exploration: Encourage your teens to explore nature. Take them on hikes, nature walks, or camping trips. Teach them about local wildlife and plants, and foster an appreciation for the environment. If you aren't an outdoors person, enlisting some help may be necessary from family or friends or city/town resources. It can also be a wonderful opportunity for you as an adult to discover the calming power of nature.
7. Limit Access to Devices: Implement device-free zones or times in your home. For example, establish a "no screens at the dinner table" rule, or a "no screens in the bedroom" rule at night to ensure quality sleep.
8. Community Involvement: Encourage your teens to get involved in community activities or volunteer work. Many community organizations offer outdoor events or projects that can be both fulfilling and fun.
9. Educational Outings: Plan educational outings to museums, zoos, botanical gardens, or historical sites. These outings can be both engaging and informative, making learning enjoyable.
10. Provide Outdoor Equipment: Invest in outdoor equipment or gear that can make outdoor activities more enjoyable for teens. Items like bicycles, camping gear, or sports equipment can make it easier for them to engage in outdoor pursuits.
11. Social Connections: Encourage your teens to invite friends to participate in outdoor activities. Socializing in an outdoor setting can make these activities more appealing.
12. Summer Camps: Consider enrolling your teens in summer camps or outdoor programs that align with their interests, such as adventure camps, science camps, or nature exploration programs.
13. Be Supportive and Flexible: Be understanding and flexible with your teens. Understand that they may have a strong attachment to technology, and it might take time for them to adjust to spending more time outdoors.
The key is to strike a balance between online and offline activities. It's important to offer alternatives that are enjoyable and meaningful to your teens while fostering a healthy relationship with technology. Encouraging them to appreciate the benefits of outdoor and offline activities can lead to a more well-rounded and fulfilling lifestyle.