Parents encouraged to unplug at parks

NANAIMO – Signs posted in major playgrounds and parks remind parents to put electronic devices away.

Nanaimo’s largest parks could soon feature new reminders for parents to ‘unplug and play.’

The Greater Nanaimo Early Years Partnership just got the OK from the Parks, Recreation and Culture Commission to post unplug campaign signs at city playgrounds.

Those behind the campaign say it’s all about encouraging parents to disconnect from electronics to play and mentor children during their early development years.

The campaign, developed in 2011, calls on families to unplug from electronic devices and sing, play, listen, read and talk, pointing out that 90 per cent of the brain develops by age five. Signs have been featured on billboards and buses. Now parents will see reminders to unplug and play in major parks like Maffeo Sutton, Harewood, Altrusa and Oliver Woods, according to Amber Bruner, coordinator of the partnership.

Anita Vallee, chairwoman of the Greater Nanaimo Early Years Partnership, said research shows how important brain development is and so they want to make parents aware of their roles as mentors and teachers.

“It’s just so important that we have parents modelling … healthy activities when they are in these playgrounds and that’s where these signs are going up. Go out and play on the slide and the swing and show your child how to do that, help them hang onto the monkey bars or whatever they are doing,” Vallee said. “The playground … that’s a really critical time that you can really slip that back into your pocket and focus on the child that you are with or the children that you are with.”