Kids Spend Less Time Outdoors Than Prisoners

I just finished talking to a good friend about how important it is for kids to go outside and play and get dirty and how these days many parents seem to be more concerned with clean kids who play inside. We talked about how their gut biomes are paying the price (not to mention the lack of Vitamin D due to good exposure to the sun). However, according to a new survey of 12,000 parents in 10 countries, one-third of children aged 5 to 12 spend less than 30 minutes outside each day. So not only are their immune systems paying the price but their imaginations as well. When did this become a thing? Even inmates at maximum security prisons in the U.S. are guaranteed at least 2 hours of outdoor time a day.

The survey, which was sponsored by Unilever laundry detergent brands OMO and Persil, has inspired a new marketing campaign – “Dirt is Good- Free the Children”. Now THAT is a marketing strategy we can get behind!

Check out this short film which documents prisoners’ responses to this survey:

From the Return to Now article:

“Prisoners at a maximum security facility in Indiana called outdoor time the ‘highlight’ of their day. ‘You take all your problems and frustrations and just leave them out there,’ one prisoner said. Another said ‘it keeps his mind right.’

When asked how they would feel about having their ‘yard time’ reduced to one hour a day, inmates responded that it would build more anger and resentment. One inmate said it would be ‘torture.’ A prison guard said it would be ‘potentially disastrous.'”

How on earth is this what we’ve decided is what’s best for our children? How on earth is this okay with us?

And a study out of England, funded by the government, found that one in nine children haven’t set foot in a park, forest, beach or any other natural environment for at least 12 months. We are creating children who don’t know how to or have the desire to explore and learn about their natural surroundings. They are instead becoming unsociable, unimaginative, and inactive and we should want more for this generation. In a study of 2,000 parents, commissioned by the Eco Attractions Group, just half of youngsters have built sandcastles at the beach, with a similar number saying they’ve never had a picnic outside of their own back garden. And according to the Huffington Post, “The outdoors is also the best place for kids to practice and master physical skills, build up their immune systems and practice problem solving skills. Indeed, whether they’re trying to figure out the best way to build a fort or learning how to get along with friends, children who play outside learn how to solve real life problems.”

Encourage your children, or just make them if you need to, to play outside. Give them to freedom to run and explore and GET DIRTY! Make mud pies, dig in the dirt, bird watch- you name it. Nature is always open and always ready to be explored. Spending time outside lowers rates of heart disease, stress and anxiety, osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, and some forms of cancer and kids with ADHD focus better when they spend time outdoors.

So, what are you waiting for? Go outside and play!!!!!!!!

Source: Return to Now, Huffington Post and The Guardian