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Virtual School: Too much screen time?? Five reasons to spend some time outside

Nearly half of American children spend more than six hours a day in front of a screen — a 500 percent increase in usage from numbers prior to COVID-19.
Credit: WZDX
Too much screen time?? Five reasons to spend some time outside

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. —

You can easily spend seven, eight, even nine hours in front of a screen. That could bring some risks for both your mental and physical health. 

For many, the last thing on their mind is going outside right now. But, we can give you a few good reasons to. 

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We met up with Monretta Vega, a Counselor with Huntsville Psychotherapy and Counseling Services. Vega says, “It can cause obesity, it can cause blood clots because we’re not moving around. But, mentally, it can have an impact on us because we can be less emotionally stable.”

Consider taking your kids for a trip outside daily. 

Schools are trying to find the best way to keep students safe during the coronavirus pandemic. Because most schools are embracing virtual or hybrid learning models to start off the 2020-2021 school year as cases rise, students could be left spending hours on computers or tablets. 

Nearly half of American children spend more than six hours a day in front of a screen — a 500 percent increase in usage from numbers prior to COVID-19. Monretta Vega says they’ll need a break and outdoor activities are a good solution.  She adds, “It’s beneficial for them because it helps them grow. It’s good for their skin, for their hair, for their bodies… It’s good for their mental stability. And exercise-- doing anything outside our norm, will release endorphins and help us feel a tad bit better as well.”

She's is talking about spending excessive amounts of time in one space. Many of us are working from home for hours on end. But, spending so much time in front of the screen can start to add up. Vega says, “That mental fatigue can actually cause you to be lethargic. It can cause you to be a tad bit more irritable or frustrated with just everyday life things. But, it can cause your mood to decrease extremely.”

Taking a break outside actually helps improve concentration. 

And spending time on a trail or hike can actually strengthen your body’s natural germ-fighting abilities and improve immune system health. 

Working from home in a family setting could mean that everyone in the house is spending a lot of time in their own areas on screens. Most parents are working from home and kids are completing online school assignments. That could put stress on any relationship. 

Vega says, “Even if you are working together with your partner in separate rooms for eight hours, get out! Eat lunch, maybe. Talk for a little bit, take a lunchtime walk.”

Sitting outside can reduce blood pressure, lower heart rate, and decrease cortisol levels. 

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