Today's #Children are missing the precious experience of playing outside, the recent research says. According to it, the average child spends just under five hours a week playing outdoors - while their parents have spent 11 hours a week in the fresh air. And that is an issue of concern.
For me, it is hard to believe, but a study of 2,000 parents, revealed 35% of modern children haven't splashed in puddles to the point where they end up soaked, while another 44% haven't had the experience of walking through squelchy mud.
My husband often teases me: "How is that possible that you haven't seen this movie? That's classics of our childhood!" Well, easy, I say! I just always preferred to play outside even though we lived in the center of the city. I remember myself when I was 7: me and my friends would have spend most of our spare time playing outdoors - a simple game of hop, step and jump, hide-and-seek, climbing trees, gathering flowers and collecting leaves, skating in winter... That's just to name a few.
But today the world has changed: children spend their spare time playing computer games, watching TV or just hanging out with friends. Researchers named a whole range of traditional outdoor activities that could soon become a thing of the past.
For instance, 53% haven't had a picnic outside of their own back yard and just 44% go on bike rides with their family. Just 40% have planted their own seeds to grow plants or flowers, while just over a third have helped to grow fruit and vegetables.
Once, when I was about 10 years old, I came home saying: "Mom, do you have a big box for water? I need it for these snails - they will be my pets". And my husband's mother once found a little frog in his pocket. But what we see now is that animal spotting is becoming less popular - two thirds of children say they have never looked for birds and just 35% have gone searching for insects.
David Hardy, spokesperson for the Eco Attractions Group, which commissioned the research, said: "... youngsters are missing out on getting dirty in the mud and puddles or simply spending time in the fresh air. These traditional activities can be a great way of encouraging children to spend more time outdoors, get more exercise and create more memories than they will get from simply sitting in front of a computer or TV screen."
And playing outdoors is really more than just fun for kids. First of all, it is good for their health. Outdoor environment provides a lot more possibilities for physical activity which is crucial for fighting obesity which becomes an epidemic. Moreover, fresh air helps to improve the immune system, and being in the sun provides a necessary portion of vitamin D which is essential for us.
Being at a playground is not just about running around - it is about communication and building social skills. Besides that promotes development of empathy, reaction and imagination. Experts say that playing in the fresh air can calm down even hyperactive children.
And of course, the outside environment is a huge lab for learning. Not only about nature - which is also very good - but also about problem solving, logic thinking and creativity.
Most parents know that, and according to the research, three quarters of them would like their children to spend more time outside than they currently do. But one in ten say their offspring simply don't enjoy spending time in the great outdoors.
Well, maybe we just need to encourage them? The study shows that eight in ten parents admit they probably need to make more effort, or find more time, to play with their children outdoors. And I think that's the key.