Recent studies by UK charity The National Trust have revealed that children are only playing outside an average of just over four hours per week. While this may seem considerable, it is much less than their parents played outside when they were children – 8.2 hours per week. Furthermore, another study found that 10% of survey respondents had not been in a natural environment such as a park, forest or beach for at least a year!
Is this something we should be concerned about?
While it would be too simplistic to say that outdoor time is good for children, and indoor time is not, it can be said that the imbalance of time spent outdoors and indoors may affect the development of children. While playing indoors can be very stimulating, such as reading a book or playing a board game, outdoor play provides development opportunities that can’t always be provided indoors, from as simple as providing vitamin D through to social and physical skill development.
Good or bad, it is understandable that children spend more time indoors these days. One of the most obvious reasons is technology. Children are bombarded with new entertainment and digital channels that can distract them from what is outside their house walls. Another influence is the increase in higher density housing, where the availability of open space in a backyard is becoming less common. Organisations such as early learning centres, schools and other child care facilities are obligated to follow strict health and safety regulations, which of course is needed, however, carers can fear liability for injuries, which may be another factor that reduces the time children spend outside.
We believe that playing outside, whether it be playing sport, exploring surrounding parkland or playing on the local playground is great for children’s development. At adventure+, we are passionate about working with landscape architects, schools and local councils to help make play spaces more engaging and inviting to encourage children and their families to enjoy the outdoors.