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In today’s digital age, it is not uncommon to see children engrossed in their mobile phones, tablets, or video games for hours on end. While technology has undoubtedly brought convenience and entertainment into our lives, excessive screen time has its consequences. From poor eyesight, and sleep disorders, to behavioural problems, mobile addiction can have a detrimental effect on children’s physical and mental health. As a society, we need to recognize the importance of promoting outdoor activities and reducing screen time for children. Outdoor activities not only provide an opportunity for physical exercise but also help in developing crucial social and emotional skills. Studies have shown that children who spend more time outdoors have better cognitive development, and improved attention span, and are less likely to suffer from anxiety and depression. It is wisely said, “Technology is a useful servant but a dangerous master” – Christian Lous Lange. Unfortunately, the trend of decreasing outdoor activities among children is becoming increasingly worrisome. A study found that children now spend only a few minutes per day in unstructured outdoor play, compared to four to five hours in front of a screen. The causes of this change are simple to comprehend. With both parents working full-time jobs and urbanization, children’s access to outdoor spaces is limited. Additionally, the rise of indoor entertainment options has made it easier for children to stay indoors. However, as a society, we must prioritize our children’s health and well-being. There are many ways to promote outdoor activities for children. Local governments can play a crucial role in this by investing in public parks and outdoor recreational spaces. They can also encourage schools to organize outdoor activities and sports programs. Parents also play an essential role in reducing their children’s screen time and promoting outdoor activities. They can create a daily routine that includes physical activity, such as going for a walk or playing catch in the park. They can also encourage their children to take up a sport or outdoor hobby that interests them. Parents should also limit their children’s screen time and ensure that they are engaging in productive and educational activities. Furthermore, schools can also play an active role in promoting outdoor activities. They can incorporate outdoor learning and physical activities into their curriculum. This could include nature walks, field trips, and outdoor science experiments. Moreover, local community organizations can also contribute to promoting outdoor activities. These organizations can organize community events such as picnics, hikes, and sports tournaments to encourage children to spend more time outdoors. As such promoting outdoor activities for children is essential for their overall health and well-being. We must recognize the negative impact of excessive screen time and take action to reduce it. As a society, we need to prioritize investments in public parks and recreational spaces, encourage schools to incorporate outdoor activities into their curriculum, and promote community events that encourage outdoor activities. By promoting a shift from screen time to green time, we can ensure that our children have a healthy and productive childhood. As the Jammu and Kashmir government gears up to implement the Smart City project in Jammu as well as in Srinagar, it is crucial to keep in mind the importance of promoting outdoor activities for children. With the advent of technology and the proliferation of screen time, it is becoming increasingly important to prioritize green time for children.

The Smart City project provides an excellent opportunity to create public spaces that are conducive to outdoor activities and promote a healthy lifestyle. To begin with, the government can allocate a significant portion of the Smart City budget towards the development of parks, playgrounds, and other green spaces that are easily accessible to children. These spaces can be designed in a way that encourages children to engage in physical activities and sports, thereby promoting their physical and mental well-being. Additionally, the government can consider setting up community gardens, where children can learn about gardening and farming, and gain an appreciation for nature. These activities can not only help children develop essential life skills such as teamwork and problem-solving but also foster a sense of community and belonging. Finally, the J&K government can consider incentivizing local businesses to promote outdoor activities for children. The Smart City project provides an excellent opportunity for the government to promote outdoor activities for children. It is crucial for the government to prioritize this aspect of the Smart City project, as the benefits of promoting green time for children extend far beyond just physical health, but also contribute to social, emotional, and cognitive development.

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