Neighborhood parks play a vital role in social development and exercise for young children, and they are a particularly important source of entertainment for lower-income parents struggling to make ends meet. Now that many kids have been vaccinated against the Coronavirus and the majority of adults are aware of the effectiveness of using things like masks to curb the spread of viruses, one would think we should start seeing more parents utilizing parks as a way to promote healthy mental and physical growth for their kids.

Covid-19 is no doubt still a worry for many parents. I have a six-year-old son who hasn't had much interaction at all with kids over the past two years. He just completed his Idaho kindergarten requirements online and will start the first grade in August. While he does get his fair share of tablet and electronics time inside our home, we do encourage him to get outdoors and participate in many activities with him.

There is a ton of data online that indicates that kids who are allowed to spend all day inside the home playing video games or watching content on their tablets are learning poor social habits, and might even be developing into more anxious, physically-inferior children compared to their peers who routinely participate in park play, bike riding, and other activities that promote socialization and exercise.

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Approximately seven in 10 United States residents are within walking distance to a neighborhood park, according to the National Recreation and Park Association. The park down the street from my Twin Falls home has a basketball court, an area ideal for bike riding, a playground with a slide, and a grassy section that measures approximately 60 to 70 yards, and yet I seldom see anyone there. I live in the presidential neighborhood section of town too, where there are a large number of children.

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