Smartphones, tablets and computers have given us the ability to stay abreast of world events, earn a college degree from home and connect with people across town and on the other side of the globe. However, research has shown that using technology too much can actually isolate you from family and friends. We know now that many people spend in excess of seven hours a day with their devices and this can lead to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, and this is especially true for teens and young adults.
Spending so much time online also results in having less time to spend with our families. As a result, many parents are limiting the time they allow their children to use their devices to address this growing problem. However, this can result in another problem with potentially worse consequences. Boredom and even resentment towards parents can result from restricting the use of electronic devices if some type of activity isn’t used to fill the void.
Instead of just restricting the time spent online, many families have found ways to reconnect by coming up with fun activities they can do outside together. Proven® Insect Repellent is a family-owned mosquito repellent company, and we absolutely love spending time outdoors together. Here are six ideas from our team on how you and your family can unplug from the devices and have a family fun day outside:
Mountain biking is one of the fastest growing outdoor activities and is a great way for the entire family to have fun together. Many municipalities have constructed parks that are either dedicated to or allow mountain biking. Many of these parks are wooded and have lakes, ponds and wildlife. Even if your town doesn’t have a designated park, you can still go for a bike hike around the back roads. Pack a lunch and make a day of it and be sure to take some mosquito repellent with you, especially if you will be around water.
2) Wildlife Viewing
Wildlife can be viewed almost anywhere, even in big cities with parks. National parks, like Yellowstone and Yosemite, are fantastic places to see deer, elk, moose and squirrels. A quiet hike in a national or state forest will also give you plenty of opportunities to see wildlife. A couple of pairs of inexpensive binoculars can help you get up close and personal with wild animals while still giving them plenty of space. Don’t forget the mosquito repellent spray as the bugs can be thick in the deep woods.
Almost everyone loves a barbecue and because you all have to eat anyway this is a great way to get the whole family together. Get the whole family involved by letting everyone pick their favorite dishes. After the cookout try keeping the fun going with some games or a movie.
1) Outdoor Movies
Inexpensive projectors can be had for around $50 that allow you to show a movie outdoors on a wall or bed sheet. Alternatively, check to see if your municipality has an outdoor movie night or maybe arrange one as a weekly event with your neighbors. Be sure to have mosquito repellent lotion to keep the little buggers from spoiling all the fun.
2) Backyard Games
There are several games that the whole family can play in the backyard during the day and night. Here are a few examples:
- Flashlight Four-Leaf Clover Hunt: Work in teams of two so one person can hold the light while the other searches for the elusive flora. Give out prizes to the teams that find the most and the biggest clovers.
- Blackout Bowling: Nighttime bowling with glow-in-the-dark pins can be a lot of fun for everyone. Pins are simple to make by filling old plastic soda bottles with water and adding a few drops of food coloring and dropping in a glow-light stick. Apply some glow-in-the-dark stickers to a ball and go at it.
- Water Balloon Toss: Choose up teams and have them stand 10 feet apart. Each team tosses their balloon back and forth three times and then moves further apart by five feet until only one team has an unpopped balloon.
- Water Balloon Dodgeball: This is just like regular dodgeball, but with water balloons. As a tip, fill the balloons with warm water.
Looking up at the night sky is something that fascinates most people when they consider the vastness of space and wondering if we are alone in the universe. Make it a game to see if anyone can spot a UFO or who can name the most constellations or count the most falling stars, or meteors. Meteor showers occur regularly throughout the year and you can check on the best viewing times in your area by going to the American Meteor Society website. Bring some lawn chairs or blankets to sit on and some good binoculars. Inexpensive telescopes can be had for less than $50.On cooler nights a thermos of hot chocolate is a nice idea. Just be sure to take a good mosquito repellent with you to keep from becoming a midnight snack.
Dealing with Insects
Engaging in outdoor activities during the warmer months means having to cope with bugs. Mosquitoes are most active after dark and can carry diseases like West Nile and Zika virus and Lyme disease. Biting flies, ticks and other biting or stinging insects also pose a risk. Using an effective insect repellent will help protect you from being bitten and possibly contracting these illnesses. While there are many highly effective insect repellents on the market, many bug sprays and lotions have harsh chemicals that some people don’t want to put on their skin and especially on their children. A good alternative to harsh chemical repellents are those with ingredients like the ones Proven® makes that contain 20 percent Picaridin. Found naturally in the pepper plant, studies have found Picaridin to be just as effective as preparations containing higher levels of DEET and has been found safe by the CDC and EPA.