American Kids Need To Be Out There


Do you remember playing outside? Maybe you remember leaving home on a summer morning and not returning except for meals until bedtime. You might have fond memories of a favorite outdoor place where you and your friends played and explored. Maybe it was a park, or a beach, or a wooded area.

Fast forward to 2011. Kids today are much less likely to have a personal connection with nature because they just don’t go outside very much.

Consider These Startling Facts:

* Today’s kids between 8 and 18 spend an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes staring at electronic screens.

* In a typical week, only 6% of children ages 9 – 13 play outside on their own.

*  Between 1997 and 2003, the amount of time children ages 9 to 12 spent participating in outdoor activities such as hiking, horseback riding, fishing, camping and gardening declined by 50 percent.

Add to these depressing statistics, the fact that in schools, hours devoted to physical education and recess are drastically reduced from previous generations. On top of that, many parents feel they are just too busy to spend time outdoors with their kids.

Kids Today Likely To Be Overweight, Depressed, Lacking In Creativity

As a result, one third of children today are overweight or obese, depression is on the rise, and kids today are less creative, have difficulty concentrating, and lack many important social skills.

Study after study shows that outdoor time keeps children fit, improves their cognitive skills and attention span, reduces stress, enhances imagination, decreases aggression, and boosts classroom performance. In addition, children who spend time in nature regularly are shown to become better stewards of the environment.

Recognizing this, the movement to re-connect children with nature is taking off, as experts around the world recognize how important it is for kids to spend time outside.  For my part, I have written a book entitled Get Out! 150 Easy Ways for Kids and Grown-Ups to Get Into Nature and Build a Greener Future, which is packed full of simple activities for families to enjoy together outdoors.

And the National Wildlife Federation has launched a Be Out There campaign. Be Out There aims to raise healthier, happier children with a life-long love of nature by inspiring outdoor play, every day.

Take Action

Join the movement by clicking here and take the pledge:

“I pledge to Be Out There and spend time outdoors every day for the health and happiness of the kids in my life.”


Aileen C.
Aileen C4 years ago


Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra4 years ago

Thank you Judy, for Sharing this!

Holy Lawrence
Holly Lawrence5 years ago

Parents allow their children to stay indoors and be electronically baby-sat!

Dee Dee L.
Dee Dee L5 years ago

My 5 year old daughter is outside a lot of the time unless its way to hot outside (during the summer here it can get to 120 degrees give or take). On super hot days we go outside in the early morning then she is inside for the remainder of the day and then if its cooler later that evening she is outside till it gets dark (or bugs start biting). I am all for her being outside. On the days she is inside, she rarely just sits down...She is usually playing tag with our cat and running up and down the hallway (super cute to see and I would post online but would probably get yelled at by people saying my daughter is abusing the cat or the cat is vicious....which neither is true)

Tom Sullivan
Tom C Sullivan5 years ago

Everyone needs to be outdoors more, to much time inside, God makes everyday beautiful, just go outside and enjoy,

Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle5 years ago

It's too late to comment -- I'm getting bleary-eyed (I'm still up because a large wildfire is getting closer to my house in Dripping Springs, TX, and I am waiting to see if we are to be included in evacuation orders. I've assembled my jewelry, dogs' leashes, bottles of water, the strong box with papers, my uncles' mementos from WWII, and am waiting. High winds from hurricane Lee, but no rain for 2 1/2 mos., not a drop.), but I wanted to say that this is important, and I've said it for years. I was raised right, in my childhood, and I raised my daughters the same -- enjoy the outdoors. I know times are different now -- children have all these devices to play with, and the internet opens up undue knowledge for pediphiles, but we can go outside WITH our children/grandchildren. The joy and increasing knowledge of seeing fireflies in the evening, of playing in mud, of investigating ants as they go about their work, ... all are wonderful and important to a child's growth. Must sleep now.

Christa Leduc
Christa Leduc5 years ago

@Jo A. I wanted to send you a green star, but I couldn't because I sent you one already. Parents don't work 7 days a week. They need to spend less time watching TV both parents and kids. Even if the take just one half hour a day, take them for a walk, go to a park and spend some quality time together.
@ Randi L. and @ Grace A. I feel sorry for you if you cannot spend some time with your kids outdoors. There is no excuse NOT TOO!

William Y.
William Y5 years ago

CONT'D I and my siblings were in the playground or at someone's house, playing with the other kids in their yards. During the school year or when it was raining my grandmother took care of us during this period. All the kids in the neighborhood had similar arrangements. In the summer the playgrounds had College students acting as Directors or Guides for the kids. Older kids, 13 to16 year olds, acted as junior directors. From age 13 -16 I was an assistant coach, with the Playground Baseball team, made up of 9-12 year olds, playing with Little League rules, sanctioned from the Little League as Farm Teams. I do not see why such things cannot happen today.

William Y.
William Y5 years ago

I wonder why people seem to think that the schedules parents have today are any different than they were years ago. When I was a child, 50's & 60's there were many parents who both worked, my parents were an example. Yet, I spent much of my time outside. i did my homework after supper, when it was to dark to play outside. The kids, in the neighborhood were always outside, with various parents outside with them. In my parents case, my father worked from 7:00 AM to 3:30 PM, my Mother worked from 3:00PM to 11:00PM. During the time between my mother's leaving for work an my father's getting home

Grace Adams
Grace Adams5 years ago

In most areas it is NOT safe for a child to be outside. Many parents are too busy juggling three part-time jobs just to pay for the bare necessities to go out with their children.