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.
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.”