Computers or smartphones can inspire your children to play

Encourage kids to use their computers and smartphones to spend time on fun and educational websites that promote healthy lifestyles.

As summer gets into full swing, children find many ways to fill their time. Some are healthy, skill building activities; others are pure fun and enjoyment, while other activities can become habits that interfere with skill building and healthy development. For many, the computer or a smartphone has become a means to connect with their friends, their world and to learn in and out of the classroom.

There are many online sites Michigan State University Extension suggests that can keep children learning in fun ways throughout the summer. You’ll actually want to encourage them to spend time on some of these sites. MyPlate Kids Place has several interactive games and videos, including nutrition Sudoku, word search and Rate Your Plate which challenges kids to think about healthy food choices for meals and snacks. Another game is called “Smash Your Plate,” in which the player chooses a food, guesses the sugar, sodium and fat content, and then pulls a lever to watch the food get smashed. The game then shows how much sugar, sodium and fat is in the food. The site also has ideas to move more, including an activity called “train like an astronaut” which gets kids doing physical activities.

A site by the Centers for Disease Control, BAM, which is short for “Body and Mind,” has lots of fun and interesting activities and games to learn about the body and mind. This site includes health topics such as diseases, food and nutrition, physical activity, safety and your life and your body. At BAM, there are also recipes created by kids for kids and several videos to watch.

Let’s Move, the White House initiative for physical fitness and nutrition, is another site linked to the MyPlate Kids Place has many links to activities for children and even links that adults will enjoy. These activities, like the activities at the other sites, can inspire your children to play more and be active and to make healthy food choices.

You might want to challenge your child to make a routine of spending a half-hour on one of these sites a few days a week. Experts say that many children experience a brain-drain during the summer, and when they start school in the fall they spend several weeks catching up and re-learning what they lost during the summer. By encouraging a balance of physical activity and healthy food with activities like reading and educational computer apps, we can help our kids to train their brain and have fun at the same time!

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