Cotton Wool Parenting means Outdoor Play is in Decline

Bluebell Wood

We are huge fans of outdoor play, in fact we always joke that we have outdoor children as they don’t cope well with being cooped up indoors.

Shocking new research by Sudocrem, which surveyed 2,000 UK parents, found that 62% think that parents today are more over- protective of their children than previous generations.

Studies have shown that the number of children who participate in outdoor play has been dramatically decreasing over the last four decades. Children of this generation spend less than 5 hours playing outside per week, in comparison with 11 hours per week for their parents’ generation.

I was born in the 70’s and remember playing outside for hours. My Mum let us out the house in the morning and our only stipulation was that we were home by 5pm for dinner. I remember playing on building sites, at the park, on the beach etc and all on our own steam. I am lucky that we live somewhere where the kids can play outside safely, although I won’t let them wander the distance that we used to and they have to stay in sight of the house.

Children now are spending at least 6.5 hours a day in front of a screen which equates to nearly two days’ worth of screen watching every week. It also comes as no surprise, therefore, that levels of childhood obesity have tripled in the last 25 years, with one in three children classified as overweight.

Wii U

Now we are not perfect, we have screen time and Isaac especially loves to play on the Wii U or on Mathletics on the computer, but we do make sure we have outdoor time too and have a rule where the kids get an hour of screentime in return for an hour outside, although they often spend a lot more time outside.

Farmer Palmers

Child psychologist Dr. Lindsay Ip explains, “Children today are more used to immediate gratification from technology and digital games than active, creative play in the outdoors and connection to humans and nature. That’s why we have a responsibility as a society to encourage our children to get outside and play. It’s important for their health and educational development.”

Farmer Palmers

The research from Sudocrem explores reasons to which parents attribute their children not playing outdoors. Over half (57%) of parents believe it was safer to play outside when they were younger and over a third (35%) believe it was less of an issue for a child to be injured after playing outdoors when they were young than there is now.

Stepping Stones

The worry that a child may bump their head or scrape their knee whilst outside playing seems to be driving parents to abandon the great outdoors and instead wrap their children up in cotton wool. Friends often make a joke that I carry a first aid kit around with me everywhere, but it has come in very handy on numerous occasions. I learned my lesson in not carrying one when Kian broke his arm and I had to fashion a sling out of a baby blanket.

Swing

Play More, supported by an educational grant by Sudocrem, is set to reverse this trend. The national campaign is reiterating the importance of outdoor play in pre-school children. And encouraging them to do just that: play more.

Sudocrem’s Brand Manager, Nick Lang said, “Children love outdoor play but they’re bound to get stung by stinging nettles and scrape their knees. This is all part of the learning process for parents as well as children. A cuddle and a tub of Sudocrem Antiseptic Healing Cream can make a lot of things better. We’ve been healing skin for generations and we’re proud to promote the spirit of adventure with Play More.”

Play More are offering the chance for 10 nurseries across the country to win either £500 to renovate their outdoor play area or £500 worth of Play More toy equipment.

One nursery that has supported outdoor play since the early 20th century times is Rachel McMillan Nursery School in Greenwich, London. Established over 100 years ago, it was the country’s first ‘open air’ nursery. This ethos continues today, no matter the weather.

“We’ve known for more than a century that letting children learn through playing outdoors feeds their imaginations and stimulates mental and physical development”, says Theresa Lane, Headteacher of Rachel McMillan Nursery School, consistently rated Outstanding by Ofted, “I’m happy to support any campaign that encourages children to spend more time outside exploring and understanding their environment, whether that’s a city centre or a muddy field.”

If you think your child’s nursery could do with improving their outdoor facilities, go to www.sudocrem.co.uk/social-hub and nominate.Playmore

8 thoughts on “Cotton Wool Parenting means Outdoor Play is in Decline

  1. Stephen says:

    I dont ever remember spending any of my summer school holidays anywhere near the house, I was off on my bike for hours.
    Stephen recently posted…Myths Man by AmouageMy Profile

  2. Louise says:

    My kids love to be outdoors. They never stop running, riding their bikes or just playing. They have screen time when I have jobs to do but I think we have the balance right. Amazingly, despite having very little fat on him my eldest was assessed as overweight at his 4 year old health check. As a result, I pay limited attention to obesity statistics now. I just focus on keeping my kids healthy x

  3. I think the trick is to finding a balance between screen time and outdoors time – my two love both x x
    Cass@frugalfamily recently posted…Free Benefit Dew The Hoola and more August Magazine Freebies….My Profile

  4. Ness says:

    In the summer the patio door is open and the kids go as much as they want. We also spend a lot of time on our allotment which sometimes turns into the ninja training academy!
    Ness recently posted…Sunday Snap – Pier We Go AgainMy Profile

  5. Jen Walshaw says:

    My boys are out nearly all the time in the summer. yes they love their screens, but there is a time and a place. They are currently outside now and have been since 20a this morning. I find it harder to get them out in the winter now they are older
    Jen Walshaw recently posted…Roasted Sea bass in a parcel – Superfishoil Summer CompetitionMy Profile

  6. Erica Price says:

    6.5 hours a day in front of a screen sounds horrendous. We don’t come close to that thankfully, that said Pokemon Go is getting us out and about.
    Erica Price recently posted…Bullring Summer Food Fest at Handmade Burger CoMy Profile

  7. Fozia S says:

    I always push the kids to play outside and am limiting their screen time. It is so easy for kids to be entertained at home with all the gadgets they often don’t want to go out!
    Fozia S recently posted…Pamper yourself with The Body ShopMy Profile

  8. JuggleMum says:

    Interesting statistics from Sudocrem! You are right though, when we were young we could play out for hours in the mud, in the woods, climbing trees and we almost always came home with a bruise or a scrape – times have definitely changed these days!

    Thanks for sharing your post.

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