Tim Gill posted an idea on his blog as to what the full picture really was with regards to why children spend less time outdoors nowadays. Using that text, I developed an graphic to help illustrate how things have changed. Below is the text I wrote for the bottom of the graphic.
“According to a collection of 45 reports and research studies put together by Cheryl Charles and Richard Louv called “Children’s Nature Deficit: What We Know – and Don’t Know” in 2009, children today spend increased time with media and multiple forms of media and their participation in outdoor activities has declined.
One report suggests that a generation of children is not only being raised indoors, but is being confined to even smaller spaces, as their use of space has changed from being primarily outdoors to indoors and supervised. In two decades children’s independent mobility has dramatically declined. This influences their outdoor activity and as 21% of children live within one mile of their school (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention 2006) many have very little chance to walk or cycle there by themselves, resulting in a nearly 25% drop over 30 years.
Parental constraints have always been present, but in this generation they seem to exert much greater control on children’s play. A study by Playday UK in 2008 reported that up to 50% of children between the ages of 7 and 12 were not allowed to ride a bike to their friends house, play in a local park or climb a tree without an adult present but 73% were allowed to surf the internet without an adult present.
As children spend more time indoors or in highly regulated activity, they spend less time just playing. The importance of play in children’s lives cannot be understated. Many studies have shown that play is a primary need for children and as Adrian Voce, former director of Play England, wrote in a recent article:
”…play deprivation can have profound implications for children’s health: obesity, attention deficit disorder, rickets and depression are just some of the conditions linked to the sedentary indoor lifestyles that are an inevitable consequence of children being denied access to outdoor play.”