There was nothing quite like the thrill of playing outdoors when we were children. Romping across the countryside for hours on end, building dens and mud pies, plastered in dirt until mum hollered for us to come in and have tea.
But for today's children, playing outside is becoming less and less of a childhood rite of passage. That's according to new research carried out by outdoor retailer Mountain Warehouse which found British children spend an average of just four hours a week playing outside – that's 50 per cent less than their parents did.
And now, TV presenter, wildlife lover and all-round champion for the outdoors, Steve Backshall is getting behind a campaign to help get children back outside.
Children today are playing outdoors 50 per cent less than their parents did
The survey of 2,000 British parents revealed many of our favourite childhood activities are being forgotten as one quarter (22 per cent) of British children have never climbed a tree, 40 per cent have never played conkers, one fifth have never flown a kite or made a daisy chain, while a massive 60 per cent have never built a treehouse or a swing.
It appears these outdoor activities have been replaced with on-screen games. On average children in the UK are spending 7 hours a week playing in front of screens and the majority of British kids (21 per cent) would even choose an iPad or smart tablet as their favourite toy.
Safety and stranger danger also plays a part in the waning time spent outdoors as 8 out of 10 British parents admit they prefer to keep their children indoors for reasons of safety. Meanwhile, half of British parents admit to sometimes relying on school to ensure their children play outside.
And all this time indoors seems to be having a negative impact on our children. Almost half (48 per cent) of parents polled said lack of outdoor play causes arguments with siblings, whilst 43 per cent say their children become lazy, while 27 per cent say they become hyperactive. And the majority of British parents (89 per cent) say their children are generally of happier after playing outside.
This study kicks off a wider campaign with renowned Steve Backshall, who has created an exciting new range of children’s outdoor gear for Mountain Warehouse as well as a fun activity sheet of the best Outdoor Playgrounds in the UK which you can download here. “It is obvious that kids just aren’t spending enough time outdoors" says Steve.
"From the popularity of computer games, to parents’ concerns for safety, the nation’s kids are missing out on the wonder and excitement of the great outdoors. Activities I loved as a child, such as tree climbing, den building and playing conkers are becoming extinct which is worrying for the next generation of adventurers.”
- Steve Backshall's range is available from Mountain Warehouse shops now
- For the opportunity to meet Steve himself on Saturday June 11, tag yourself on social media wearing the new range using the hashtag #MeetSteveB. To fid out more about this opportunity, click here