16 MAY

Have you ever had a conversation with someone which just resonated with you? Afterwards, you’ve thought: “I can use that”. Well, recently I had one of those conversations.

Over the holidays, my family and I were privileged to go overseas. During our time away, my son and I went on a short fishing charter. On the same charter was another father, from New Zealand, with his young daughter. 

The father and I had a chat covering many topics.

After exchanging our views about the upcoming Cricket and Rugby World Cups, he briefly mentioned to me that a school in Dunedin has some sort of reward for students who prove they spend ‘less time online and more time on-a-line’ (which, I believe, could be fishing or any other outdoor pursuit).

This clever phrase really resonated with me and made me think how I could use it at NAC.

So, armed with the awesome line of ‘less time online, more time on-a-line’, I spoke at a Junior School assembly about the consequences of excessive screen time and the health benefits of outdoor pursuits.

As part of my presentation, I asked the students about their views on having too much screen time. Out of more than 400 children in the assembly, I would say 75% of them raised their hand when asked if too much screen time is unhealthy.

I then asked individuals why screen time can be unhealthy and they answered, among other things, with:

  • You can become obese because you don’t do enough exercise
  • It can be anti-social
  • It creates anxiety
  • It gives you ‘square eyes’

Staggering! Children know the impact of too much screen time. 

In effect, children know that ‘spending more time on-a-line’ (or equivalent) is a good thing. The answers told me that our education programs about healthy lifestyles are being heard. But, unfortunately, the advice is not always followed. Or, are children struggling to follow screen time guidelines because they are addicted and do not have the ability to self regulate?

I think we would all agree that the producers of the video games, social media platforms and other online content, deliberately make them really difficult to ‘put down’.

How can we help our children?

  • Plan to be outside as a family once a month – visit a beach, do a bush walk, go camping.
  • Sign your child up for a weekly team sport – this often includes training as well as the game.
  • Use the outdoors like an extra room – store some favourite activities securely outside along with a picnic rug. Get the kids out there and once outside, they typically stay outside.
  • Plan active time after school – walk the dog, play handball or kick a ball together.


From Mr Thompson, Head of Junior School

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