Research shows that three-quarters of British children get outdoors more rarely than prisoners, as a result of “the digital age”.
Contemporary digital technology and parental fear are the main reasons which lead children to have an isolated lifestyle.
Since children today spend little time outdoors, their health is pretty impaired. Often, they lose their sense of environment.
Scientists explain that the active playing is very important for the health and development of children. However, the parents today have a fear of open spaces for children, such as parks, forests, beaches, etc.
The latest research shows that every ninth child of Britain has not stepped into the park, the woods, the beach…
The scientists were examining 2,000 parents of children aged 5-12 years. They have come up with data that 74 percent of children spend less than an hour outdoor per day. According to the resolution of the United Nations for the prisoners, they must be provided at least an hour a day of active exercise in the fresh air. This suggests that the majority of parents treats their children worse than the state treats the prisoners.
This study showed that, in just three years, the number of hours that children spend playing electronic games increased three times and now reaches almost twice the figure of the number of hours that children spend outdoors.
What can we do?
We are responsible for raising our children in isolation because they are denied the right of childhood freedom. All this subsequently affects their mental and physical health. A great solution to this problem could be if the school and kindergarten would organize more outdoor activities, visits to the national parks, forests and other safe environments. But, the time a child spends in nature with its own family is the most valuable. Family picnics and weekend getaways should become popular again. We tend to give our children any kind of entertainment just to keep them occupied. Most of the time we don’t realize that this is affecting the whole new generation: We are raising a generation of inactive people who will have large health and mental issues in the future. By changing the habits of our own child, we might change the future of our planet.
Another research from 2013 showed that four out of five children do not have an adequate relationship with nature.
This means that they have never climbed the tree, played hide and seek in the park or have never watched the birds, butterflies or other insects alive. Some of the children have never seen a domestic animal. For example, a boy from Germany thought that all the cows come in violet color, thanks to the TV commercial of a famous chocolate producer.
A global survey conducted on how often the children get outdoors became a campaign called ‘Dirt is good’. After the results showed a lack of outdoor games among children aged five to twelve years, some parents decided to talk openly about this.
The results of the survey, commissioned by an independent market research firm, found that 1/3 of British children spend 30 minutes or less away from home every day. Every fifth child has never played games out of their homes and almost never goes to the park.
Researchers examined 12,000 parents in 10 countries: USA, Brazil, United Kingdom, Turkey, Portugal, South Africa, Vietnam, China, Indonesia, and India.
“On average, children today spend less time outdoors than prisoners.” Says the initiative of “Dirt is good” campaign. Prisoners get outdoors for at least two hours of time every day, while most children enjoy an hour or less, on average.
Some of the prisoners were surprised with this results and commented:
“I think this is probably the most important part of my day,” said one prisoner. It is keeping my mind in good health, keeping my body strong. Another prisoner called his time out “A pretty big highlight of my day.”
The prisoners were then asked how they would feel if their time outdoors was reduced from two hours a day to one.
“I think it would encourage more anger, more aggressively! It would not be a good thing,” one prisoner noted.
Another says it would be “a torture”, while the guard says: “I think that cutting the time spent out on the 1 hour a day, could be a potential disaster.”
When the interviewer said to the prisoners that children often get outdoors only for one hour per day, they were shocked. “It’s depressing,” one commented. “Climbing the tree, have small injuries, so what? It should be a part of life,”
“Learn to be a kid,” another prisoner noted.
We the humans seem to care about freedom a lot. Yet when we have it, we don’t know how to utilize it.
We struggle to find some free time, to relax to reduce the daily stress. There is no better stress reliever than spending time outdoors with the children: As they learn about the environment, we will grow to love it too. We will learn a lot of things from them. At the same time, we will be able to teach them how to have a healthy relationship with nature, animals, plants and the elements. If the children are afraid of water, the best approach is to show them a spring or a small creak. This way they will understand that all things in nature come in small and big portions. As they grow, they will manage to handle the oceans or big lakes.
Another great way to make your children get outdoors for some fresh air is to organize a trip to your relatives or friends in the countryside.
Even if you don’t have cousins or friends who prefer to live in the village, agro-tourism is something that almost anybody can afford. It’s cheaper to spend a weekend in a countryside than in a day a touristic resort.
By Apollonas G.
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