A generation of children are growing up without experiencing simple outdoor pleasures such as splashing in puddles or mud, building a sandcastle – or even making daisy chains, a study has revealed.
Researchers reckon a whole range of traditional outdoor activities - including building sandcastles on the beach, climbing trees, and having a picnic beyond the back garden - could soon become a thing of the past as children "spend their spare time playing computer games, watching TV or just hanging out with friends" instead.
The study of 2,000 parents was commissioned by the Eco Attractions Group, and revealed that 35 per cent of modern children haven’t splashed in puddles to the point where they end up socked, while another 44 per cent haven’t had the experience of walking through squelchy mud.
It also found that the average child spends just under five hours a week playing outside – almost half the 11 hours a week their parents did.
That part doesn't really surprise me. I think our generation of parents are more cautious about letting kids play outside than our own parents were.
But a spokesperson for the Eco Attractions Group commented that youngsters are "missing out on getting dirty in the mud and puddles or simply spending time in the fresh air" and urged parents to take advantage of the opportunity to experience those pleasures during the Easter school holidays.
Less than half have built sandcastles at the beach, 53 per cent haven’t had a picnic outside of their own back garden and just 44 per cent go on bike rides with their family. Just four in ten children have planted their own seeds to grow plants or flowers from scratch, while just over a third have helped to grow fruit and vegetables. Animal spotting is also becoming less popular, with two thirds of children saying they have never looked for birds and just 35 per cent have gone searching for insects.
Even everyday activities are in decline with just under two thirds saying they have never had a go at flying a kite, 66 per cent claiming to have never made a daisy chain and seven in ten never going blackberry picking. And thanks to the lack of snow in some areas less than six in ten children have built a snowman while 47 per cent have never had a snowball fight.
But while more than three quarters of parents would like their children to spend more time outside than they currently do, one in ten say their offspring simply don’t enjoy spending time in the great outdoors. Instead, given the choice, just 28 per cent of parents say their children would choose to play outside.
So, how many of these activities can your kids tick off this list:
These are the top 30 childhood activities that many children are ditching in favour of screen time:
1. Splashed in puddles and got wet
2. Built a snowman
3. Walked through squelchy mud
4. Played in a forest/woodland
5. Had a snowball fight
6. Played in a local park or playing field
7. Built a sandcastle
8. Had a picnic somewhere other than your own garden
9. Gone on bike rides
10. Played in the rain
11. Planted their own seeds
12. Climbed a tree
13. Paddled in the sea/stream/river
14. Skimmed stones across a river/lake
15. Gone plant/animal spotting
16. Searched for bugs and insects
17. Helped to grow fruit and vegetables
18. Flown a kite
19. Made a daisy chain
20. Looked for birds
21. Knocked conkers off a tree
22. Gone blackberry picking
23. Had a conker fight
24. Camped outside
25. Pond dipping
26. Played ‘pooh sticks’
27. Hunted for animals in rock pools
28. Built a den from sticks and branches
29. Gone crabbing
30. Found frogspawn
And how many might you try out during the holidays? I am really hoping NOT to tackle the one about building a snowman...