74 Percent Of U.K. Children Spend Less Time Outside Than Prison Inmates

According to The Guardian, a new study has revealed that 74 percent of U.K. children spend less time outside than prison inmates do. The study also revealed that a fifth of U.K. children do not play outside at all.

In February of this year, a two-year, government-funded study revealed that 10 percent of U.K. children had not set foot into any type of natural environment including (but not limited to) a park, forest, or beach in a year.

The findings of this study are both overwhelming and scary to experts as they warn parents that active play is an essential part of the proper health and development of children of all ages. Parents being afraid to let their children play outdoors, weather, the lack of open green spaces for the children to play at in the U.K., and the addiction to technology are a combination of what has caused these children to stop spending time outside, The Guardian reported.

Kids riding on their bikes outside
[Image via Shutterstock]

The vast majority of the parents polled during this study expressed that children in the U.K. have fewer opportunities to spend time playing outside compared to when the parents were younger.

“The truth is we are enclosing our children. We are stifling their ability to be free, to be at their best as children and it is having significant impacts.”

Mark Sears at The Wild Network believes the decrease in mental well-being and the increase in obesity is directly linked to these children’s desire to spend less and less time playing outdoors.

In response to parents feeling as though their children do not have as many opportunities to play outside, a new plan for National Parks was put in place. On Wednesday of this past week, environment secretary Liz Truss announced that all U.K. children who are in school will have the opportunity to take a trip to a national park.

“I want every child to know the joy and wonder of the great outdoors. Our children should be climbing trees, not the walls.”

The goal with the new plan that Liz Truss announced is give more children the opportunity to enjoy outdoor learning.

This new survey polled 2,000 parents who had a child (or children) between the ages of five and 12. The results of the study revealed that 74 percent of children played outside for less than an hour each day. For comparison purposes, it was noted that the U.N. guidelines require inmates to receive “at least one hour of suitable exercise in the open air daily.” This means prison inmates are spending more time outdoors than the U.K. children are. The study went on to reveal that U.K. children are spending twice as much time playing with electronics than playing outside.

Addition Studies Reveal The Same Information

Earlier in March of this year, a study by Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT), was published which revealed that children from poorer households were not as interested in spending time playing outside as children who were “better-off” financially. The study went on to reveal that just taking the children from poorer households outside one time to show them what outdoor learning was like made a huge difference.

Back in 2013, the RSPB published a three-year study which revealed that four-out-of-five U.K. children were not “connected to nature.”

As technology continues to develop, green spaces continue to be destroyed, and crime continues to exist, parents have no interest in the fight associated with getting children to put down the electronics and go outside. The lack of opportunities for U.K. children to enjoy outside play and outside learning doesn’t provide the parents with a compelling argument when trying to convince their children to spend some time playing outside.

Persil, a detergent brand who funded the study, has spent more than a decade trying to encourage children to spend more time playing outside with their “Dirt is Good” marketing campaign.

[Image via Shutterstock]