Are kids spending less time outside than prisoners?
Children have become prisoners by choice in their own homes.
According to a recent global survey, about 75 percent of children are spending less than an hour outside on an average day. It also found that 10 percent of these children did not play outside at all.
The research, conducted as part of the “Dirt is Good” campaign, polled more than 12,000 parents from 10 countries throughout the world. Nearly two-thirds claimed their children have fewer opportunities to play outside than they did as children.
“Academic research shows that active play is the natural and primary way that children learn,” said Sir Ken Robinson, a leading expert in education, creativity and human development, and chair of the “Dirt is Good” Child Development Advisory Board, in a study news release. “It is essential to their healthy growth and progress, particularly during periods of rapid brain development. Yet, too often play is disregarded as frivolous and pointless. Consequently, there’s a growing, and alarming, tendency to reduce time for active play in children’s lives – both at school and home.”
The researchers compared this inactivity as measuring up to just as little time as prisoners spend outside.
Due to hectic modern-day lives, half of all parents report they have little to no time to supervise outdoor play. Forty percent of parents say that there aren’t safe places for their children to play in their community. They also reported that the absence of green spaces and the takeover of technology is leading kids to lead enclosed lives.
“The survey mirrors what we’ve seen in the United States. Children are spending less time outdoors and are less active than previous generations,” says Dr. John Beckerman, a pediatrician at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Ill. and Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill. “This inactivity is associated with increased obesity and other health problems.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following tips to limit technology time:
- To limit screen time at home, keep televisions, computers, or video games out of children’s bedrooms.
- Children and teens should not be exposed to entertainment media for more than two hours per day.
Dr. Beckerman encourages families to get outdoors, be active together and gain more of an appreciation for nature as a family.
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.