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Are traditional childhood activities becoming a thing of the past?

Simple things like making a daisy chain, flying a kite and camping outside in decline

A generation of children are growing up without experiencing simple pleasures such as flying a kite, knocking conkers off trees or even making daisy chains, a study has revealed.

Researchers found a whole range of traditional nature activities could soon become a thing of the past as children spend their spare time playing computer games, watching TV or just hanging out with friends instead.

Rainforest canopyPlaying in open spaces and woodland, planting their own seeds and climbing trees are also among the activities a large number of today’s youngsters have never tried.

It emerged the average child in the South East spends just under five hours a week playing outside – more than half the 11 hours a week their parents did.

Rupert West, spokesperson for Living Rainforest, part of Eco Attractions Group, which commissioned the research, said: “For many people, these activities made up a huge chunk of our childhood, and left us with the memories and experience of our natural world to go with it.

“But today’s children seem to be struggling to experience a large number of them for themselves.

“Nowadays, children have much more to keep them amused – computers, a host of TV channels and smart phones – something older generations didn’t have. As a result, youngsters are missing out on getting dirty in the mud and puddles or simply spending time in the fresh air.

“EAG attractions offer safe environments for families to explore and learn about nature, many of them in or very close to cities, so they are an easy way for children to get access to and find out more about the natural world.”

The study, of 2,000 parents, revealed 43 per cent of children in the South East haven’t had a picnic outside of their own back garden, only 52 per cent go on bike rides with their family and under a third have knocked conkers off trees.

tree-nymph-butterflyEven everyday activities are in decline with only 43 per cent saying they have had a go at flying a kite, over half have never climbed a tree and 61 per cent claim to have never made a daisy chain.

But while three quarters of parents would like their children to spend more time outside than they currently do, 71 per cent say their children would rather stay at home either playing computer games, watching TV alone or with friends or even just reading a book.

As a result, 60 per cent of parents in the South East worry about whether their children are experiencing enough of the traditional childhood activities.

However 75 per cent of parents admitted they probably need to make more effort, or find more time, to play with their children outdoors while worryingly, 20 per cent of parents say they don’t live near a green space or somewhere with outdoor activities for their children.

Rupert West continued: “The Easter holidays are just around the corner and we encourage all parents to try and get their kids closer to nature.

“There is a wealth of activities out there and kids get so much from experiencing the natural world.  As well as the pure joy of nature, plenty of research has shown that kids exposed to nature perform better at school, so it really is worthwhile making the effort.

Dwarf Crocodile

“Try visiting an Eco Attraction that’s near you, they will have special Easter activities for the kids and many are actually in cities so are easily accessible.

“Just get the family out of the house and enjoying what nature has to offer!”

This Easter, The Living Rainforest is celebrating the life and times of crocodiles as it prepares to bid farewell to its endangered West African Dwarf Crocodile, Courtney, who will be departing at the end of the month. The well-loved crocodilian is off to Germany as part of a European breeding programme.

Top 30 childhood activities children are most likely to have done:

  1. Splashed in puddles and got wet
  2. Built a snowman
  3. Walked through squelchy mud
  4. Played in a forest/woodland
  5. Had a snowball fight
  6. Played in a local park or playing field
  7. Built a sandcastle
  8. Had a picnic somewhere other than your own garden
  9. Gone on bike rides
  10. Played in the rain
  11. Planted their own seeds
  12. Climbed a tree
  13. Paddled in the sea/stream/river
  14. Skimmed stones across a river/lake
  15. Gone plant/animal spotting
  16. Searched for bugs and insects
  17. Helped to grow fruit and vegetables
  18. Flown a kite
  19. Made a daisy chain
  20. Looked for birds
  21. Knocked conkers off a tree
  22. Gone blackberry picking
  23. Had a conker fight
  24. Camped outside
  25. Pond dipping
  26. Played ‘pooh sticks’
  27. Hunted for animals in rock pools
  28. Built a den from sticks and branches
  29. Gone crabbing
  30. Found frogspawn

 Based on a survey of 2,000 adults conducted by OnePoll in February 2015

Decline in activity mapped by looking at comparison between what children and parents have experienced during their childhood

Eco Attractions Group is an alliance of leading British visitor attractions with a strong environmental theme. They bring adventure and education to life in inspirational environments. Members share a common goal of helping to connect people with the natural world and create a more sustainable future.

The group consists of: Centre for Alternative Technology, Eden Project, Garden Organic’s Ryton Gardens, Kew Gardens, Living Rainforest, National Botanic Garden of Wales, National Wildflower Centre, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, The Deep.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 1st, 2015 at 9:42 am and is filed under News.

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