The Closeted Generation

Campfire Memories

After surveying 2000 parents across the United Kingdom, adventure blog Go Ape decided that the current generation of kids should be called the “Closeted Generation” because they are spending too much time indoors in front of a screen.  They found that 22% of parents put their kids in front of a screen “because its easier” even though parents know better (49% felt guilty about allowing too much screen time).  Besides that,  half of parents worried that their kids were missing out on a variety of outdoor activities.

Sophie Mason, writing for Go Ape, added; “The study also found that this generation of children will astonishingly spend the equivalent of 3.5 days solid in front of a screen during the summer holidays – that’s 86 hours and 40 minutes that could be spent playing outdoors!  Sadly, traditional activities like making daisy chains, flying a kite, and fruit picking are at risk of becoming obsolete with the study showing that British children are less physically active than their parents were by over an hour per day.”  I don’t know about Sophie’s math, but the point is well taken.

Uncloseting Kids

Few parents had any concern about sending their kids outdoors,  so Go Ape concluded that families need help planning outdoor activities with their kids.  In an effort to help,  they created “Share Adventure” a portal where everyone in the UK can describe their outdoor adventures and share them (using 250 characters and a photo) with others looking for ideas.  They have a contest with prizes to encourage people to report their adventures.

While not a bad idea that probably encourages some families to explore together,  I think that it might be equally effective to simply limit screen time, take away the cell phones and send the kids outdoors to play.  That’s something that can be done everyday all summer and will force kids to learn how to play creatively with each other.

Getting Past the Barriers

I know that these days there are a lot of broken families, multiple breadwinners, kids in daycare and kids being cared for by other family members or kid sitters.  Some kids are even left home alone.  It’s not as easy as mom sending the kids outside while keeping an eye on them through the window or checking on them from time to time and calling them in for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Still, it’s so important that kids get outdoors that parents must find a way.

Ways to Get Kids Outdoors

The National Wildlife Federation has  a goal to get 10 million kids outdoors.  They offer a variety of suggestions including:

The Nature Conservancy also has some ideas including:

Here are a few more ideas:

  • Take the kids for a walk in the park.  Many cities have summer park programs for kids – take advantage of them.
  • Get your kids into Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Camp Fire, or any other organization with an outdoor agenda.  There are programs for all kinds of kids.  Volunteer to help, for an even better experience.
  • Try geocaching.
  • Learn to swim then go to the pool, lake or pond
  • Try cross country (nordic) skiing where there is snow.  A Bill Koch Youth Ski League club
    is a great place for kids to learn to ski and have fun in the outdoors in winter.
  • Find an outdoor sport they will enjoy (baseball, soccer etc.) that actually gets them in contact with grass.

The Bottom Line

There are way more ways to get kids outdoors at any time of year than there are excuses to let them stay indoors in front of a screen.  As a parent it is up to you to find something that inspires your kid and support them in their outdoor adventures.   You’ll end up with a healthier, happier kid and a better mental state for yourself as well.

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#shareadventure #kidsoutdoors #screentime



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