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75% Of UK Kids Spend Less Time Outdoors Than Prison Inmates

75% Of UK Kids Spend Less Time Outdoors Than Prison Inmates

Many children from ages 2-5 spend a great deal of time in front of screens, about 32 hours each week. This much time can be equated to the weekly work shift of an adult.

In a survey conducted by laundry detergent company Persil, 2,000 parents revealed just how little their children go outside. The survey confirmed that children are spending less and less time playing in the woods, fields, and parks. Most parents involved in the survey agreed that their children spend less time outside than they did in their youth. What may be even more disconcerting is that prison inmates spend about as much time outdoors as young children.

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Adverse effects of limited outdoor playtime

A survey conducted by Persil, whose parent company is Unilever, showed how parents are treating the subject of outdoor play. The survey was a part of Persil’s Dirt is Good campaign. At least 74% of children play outside for less than an hour per day. According to Britain’s Environment Secretary, Liz Truss, only 10% of children have access to outdoor learning.

One hour outside for exercise is the same standard that the UN guidelines recommend for prisoners. The survey also found that ⅕ of children don’t play outside on an average day at all—the same treatment given to a prisoner when the weather is not suitable for exercise. Is spending more time playing on a screen than playing outside really effective for kids? Technology could be leading to more confined lives, not by choice of the children but by their parents.

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Childhood in front of a screen

What is the experience of growing up without getting to go outside? A part of a child’s play is getting to be messy, fun, and creative. Is the loss of that experience depriving for children? It could be so: childhood obesity and stress are some of the results.

Physical activity is always a good thing. It’s not the most desirable for kids to bounce off the walls or use their outdoor voice indoors. Perhaps these issues can be easily resolved with more outdoor play.

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Much like those who know the benefits of exercise and continue to sit on the couch, most parents agree that outdoor play is highly valuable but it still doesn’t happen. The study revealed results that 1 in 9 children have not physically been to a beach, forest, park or any natural environment. This is very limiting for children, especially on the inner world created in their mind.

Outdoor play complements life

Exercise is important throughout life because it’s necessary to be healthy and active. Perhaps some parents don’t realize the plethora of benefits of outdoor play for kids.

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Getting plenty of outdoor exercise during formative years has an effect on maintaining fitness levels. Vitamin D is an essential vitamin produced when in the sun, not indoors.

What about being able to see better? Being in front a screen only requires the use of a limited range of eye movement. Whereas being outside helps improve vision because of the varying distances of trees and objects. A study published by Optometry and Vision Science has shown that kids who play outside have better long distance vision. It’s also important to make note that outdoor play benefits social skills, enhances attention span, and lowers stress.

Overall, parents have such fears surrounding their children that they don’t allow them to go outside anymore. Outdoor play is becoming something of a bygone era likely because of car accidents and fear of strangers.

It’s necessary to get outside and in the dirt to experience life fully. Help reduce commercialization of childhood by taking a child in your life outdoors more frequently. Simply taking time outside each day has a tremendously beneficial effect on the lifelong health of a child. It doesn’t have to be difficult to start the healthy habit of outdoor play.

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Published on January 30, 2019

How to Support a Working Mother as a Working Father

How to Support a Working Mother as a Working Father

In roughly 60 percent of two-parent households with children under the age of 18, both parents work full time. But who takes time off work when the kids are sick in your house? And if you are a manager, how do you react when a man says he needs time to take his baby to the pediatrician?

The sad truth is, the default in many companies and families is to value the man’s work over the woman’s—even when there is no significant difference in their professional obligations or compensation. This translates into stereotypes in the workplace that women are the primary caregivers, which can negatively impact women’s success on the job and their upward mobility.

According to a Pew Research Center analysis of long-term time-use data (1965–2011), fathers in dual-income couples devote significantly less time than mothers do to child care.[1] Dads are doing more than twice as much housework as they used to (from an average of about four hours per week to about 10 hours), but there is still a significant imbalance.

This is not just an issue between spouses; it’s a workplace culture issue. In many offices, it is still taboo for dads to openly express that they have family obligations that need their attention. In contrast, the assumption that moms will be on the front lines of any family crisis is one that runs deep.

Consider an example from my company. A few years back, one of our team members joined us for an off-site meeting soon after returning from maternity leave. Not even two hours into her trip, her husband called to say that the baby had been crying nonstop. While there was little our colleague could practically do to help with the situation, this call was clearly unsettling, and the result was that her attention was divided for the rest of an important business dinner.

This was her first night away since the baby’s birth, and I know that her spouse had already been on several business trips before this event. Yet, I doubt she called him during his conferences to ask child-care questions. Like so many moms everywhere, she was expected to figure things out on her own.

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The numbers show that this story is far from the exception. In another Pew survey, 47 percent of dual-income parents agreed that the moms take on more of the work when a child gets sick.[2] In addition, 39 percent of working mothers said they had taken a significant amount of time off from work to care for their child compared to just 24 percent of working fathers. Mothers are also more likely than fathers (27 percent to 10 percent) to say they had quit their job at some point for family reasons.

Before any amazing stay-at-home-dads post an angry rebuttal comment, I want to be very clear that I am not judging how families choose to divide and conquer their personal and professional responsibilities; that’s 100 percent their prerogative. Rather, I am taking aim at the culture of inequity that persists even when spouses have similar or identical professional responsibilities. This is an important issue for all of us because we are leaving untapped business and human potential on the table.

What’s more, I think my fellow men can do a lot about this. For those out there who still privately think that being a good dad just means helping out mom, it’s time to man up. Stop expecting working partners—who have similar professional responsibilities—to bear the majority of the child-care responsibilities as well.

Consider these ways to support your working spouse:

1. Have higher expectations for yourself as a father; you are a parent, not a babysitter.

Know who your pediatrician is and how to reach him or her. Have a back-up plan for transportation and emergency coverage.

Don’t simply expect your partner to manage all these invisible tasks on her own. Parenting takes effort and preparation for the unexpected.

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As in other areas of life, the way to build confidence is to learn by doing. Moms aren’t born knowing how to do this stuff any more than dads are.

2. Treat your partner the way you’d want to be treated.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard a man on a business trip say to his wife on a call something to the effect of, “I am in the middle of a meeting. What do you want me to do about it?”

However, when the tables are turned, men often make that same call at the first sign of trouble.

Distractions like this make it difficult to focus and engage with work, which perpetuates the stereotype that working moms aren’t sufficiently committed.

When you’re in charge of the kids, do what she would do: Figure it out.

3. When you need to take care of your kids, don’t make an excuse that revolves around your partner’s availability.

This implies that the children are her first priority and your second.

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I admit I have been guilty in the past of telling clients, “I have the kids today because my wife had something she could not move.” What I should have said was, “I’m taking care of my kids today.”

Why is it so hard for men to admit they have personal responsibilities? Remember that you are setting an example for your sons and daughters, and do the right thing.

4. As a manager, be supportive of both your male and female colleagues when unexpected situations arise at home.

No one likes or wants disruptions, but life happens, and everyone will face a day when the troubling phone call comes from his sitter, her school nurse, or even elderly parents.

Accommodating personal needs is not a sign of weakness as a leader. Employees will be more likely to do great work if they know that you care about their personal obligations and family—and show them that you care about your own.

5. Don’t keep score or track time.

At home, it’s juvenile to get into debates about who last changed a diaper or did the dishes; everyone needs to contribute, but the big picture is what matters. Is everyone healthy and getting enough sleep? Are you enjoying each other’s company?

In business, too, avoid the trap of punching a clock. The focus should be on outcomes and performance rather than effort and inputs. That’s the way to maintain momentum toward overall goals.

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The Bottom Line

To be clear, I recognize that a great many working dads are doing a terrific job both on the home front and in their professional lives. My concern is that these standouts often aren’t visible to their colleagues; they intentionally or inadvertently let their work as parents fly under the radar. Dads need to be open and honest about family responsibilities to change perceptions in the workplace.

The question “How do you balance it all?” should not be something that’s just asked of women. Frankly, no one can answer that question. Juggling a career and parental responsibilities is tough. At times, really tough.

But it’s something that more parents should be doing together, as a team. This can be a real bonus for the couple relationship as well, because nothing gets in the way of good partnership faster than feelings of inequity.

On the plus side, I can tell you that parenting skills really do get better with practice—and that’s great for people of both sexes. I think our cultural expectations that women are the “nurturers” and men are the “providers” needs to evolve. Expanding these definitions will open the doors to richer contributions from everyone, because women can and should be both—and so should men.

Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com

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