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Can My Child Play Outside During COVID-19?

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Can My Child Play Outside During COVID-19?

Apr 28, 2020

Exercise and sunshine are important, even during physical distancing. But a common concern parents may have is whether or not their kids can play outside. Pediatrician Dr. Cindy Gellner talks about the guidelines for keeping safe while playing outdoors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Episode Transcript

Parents are concerned with the self-quarantine orders. They don't know what to do to get their kids outside. I'll give you some suggestions on today's Scope.

Some parents have heard that COVID-19 is in the air and have actually asked me if it's safe for their kids to go into their own backyards. Please encourage your children to go outside in their yards. Get some exercise. Get some sunshine. COVID-19 particles can linger in the air if someone who is infected coughs or sneezes, but recent data says that's only for about three hours. And the particles can only travel about 6 feet, according to most studies.

If your children are around the family members that they are in the house with anyways, and the family is COVID-free, then there isn't a chance they're going to get it just by going outside into their own backyards. What we don't want is for kids to go play on playgrounds or go to other friends' backyards or go to parks and meet their friends. That's not social distancing. So, as hard as it is, those are no-go options for exercise right now.

I've also been asked over and over again, "How do I deal with my kids who are getting desperate to play with their friends?" I wish I had a good answer for that. I've got two boys at home who are going stir crazy as well. Soccer season has been cancelled. They want to see their friends, and it's just not going to happen. A lot of kids are starting to get depressed as a result of the social isolation. As tempting as it may be to set up a playdate, it's not a good idea. Your child will see this as something they can do now, not a one-time let's bend the rules a bit.

The best suggestion is what my own kids do. They FaceTime or text with their friends. They see their classmates on Google Classroom or a secure Zoom chat that has been set up by their teacher or their coach. My younger son's classmates love seeing our puppy be part of their weekly school video meetings. They have found ways to connect through video games that, while I have parental controls on, they can have a few of their friends join multiplayer games where they can play and talk to each other.

It's also important that your kids know that this is temporary and everyone is missing their friends, parents too. We get it. This totally sucks. But if we all do our part, we will keep everyone as healthy as we can. We will be able to see each other again soon if we all social distance now. Until then, it's time to download some social meeting apps.