Children spend more time locked up than prison inmates
A survey has revealed that a quarter of UK children spend less time outside than prisoners. And a fifth of youngsters do not play outside at all on an average day.
The figures were revealed by The Wild Network which works to increase wild play.
The Free the Kids campaign warns that today’s children risk missing out on learning essential developmental skills that will set them up for the future.
“The truth is we are enclosing our children,” The Wild Network’s Mark Sears told The Guardian.
“We are stifling their ability to be free, to be at their best as children and it is having significant impacts.”
The statistics back-up government research which found that one in nine children had not set foot in a park, forest, beach or any other natural environment for at least 12 months.
Environment Secretary Liz Truss has since announced that every schoolchild in England will have the chance to visit one of the UK’s National Parks at each stage of their education – in a bid to connect the next generation with the outdoors and safeguard the future of the iconic landscapes.
She said recently: “I want every child to know the joy and wonder of the great outdoors. Our children should be climbing trees, not the walls.”
The initiative also aims to harness the power of the natural environment to improve national wellbeing, after research from Natural England showed taking part in nature-based activities can contribute to a reduction in anxiety, stress, and depression. Greater use of ‘green care’ to help people suffering from mental ill health has been recommended.
The Wild Network’s survey questioned a nationally representative sample of 2,000 parents of 5-12 year olds and found 74% of children spent less than 60 minutes playing outside each day. UN guidelines for prisoners require “at least one hour of suitable exercise in the open air daily.”
The poll also found children spent twice as long playing on screens as playing outside. It was funded by Persil, as part of the detergent brand’s Dirt is Good campaign.
The Wild Network’s research points to parents’ fear of strangers, traffic or accidents among the main barriers to outdoor play. A lack of time due to busy school and work lives was also blamed.
Mark added: “There is a real paradox at work here. Parents overwhelmingly recognise the importance of play for their children’s future and their ability to learn and yet outdoor time continues to decline.
“What we need now is new solutions, new ideas and better tools to give parents the confidence and capability to overcome those barriers.”
Pelican Communications are specialists in the environment, food and drink, outdoor and leisure and packaging sectors and offer a range of services such as media relations, brand management, event management and people development. Contact us for marketing and communications expertise.