Woodlands, countryside and parks have become out of bounds to a generation of ‘cotton wool kids’ with fewer than ten percent playing in such places, according to new research results revealed by Natural England.
In addition, less than a quarter of children said they visit a patch of nature near their home on a weekly basis, compared with over half of adults who visited a local nature patch weekly when they were young.
The survey was produced to mark the launch of Natural England’s ‘One Million Children Outdoors’ programme, which aims to encourage more children to visit places such as nature reserves and environmentally friendly farms.
The survey also revealed that nature-based activities, such as pond dipping, climbing trees and playing conkers are enjoyed by children when they are allowed to take part and that over 80 percent of them wanted more freedom to play outdoors.
Most adults agreed that they would like children to play outdoors more often, but cited road safety and concern about strangers as reasons for not giving them more freedom.
Poul Christensen, acting Chair for Natural England said: “Children are being denied the fundamental sense of independence and freedom in nature that their parents enjoyed. Our research shows that contact with nature has halved in a generation and that the overwhelming majority of children now want more opportunities to play outdoors.
“Whether through pond dipping or tree climbing, nature-based activities can play an important role in the educational and social development of children. Society must question its priorities in providing safe open spaces for play – the money spent on parks and trees in this country is a fraction of that spent on the roads that cause parents safety concerns.”
Source: Natural England
I’m in total agreement with this post.
Many, many decades ago my parents were grateful to be given the opportunity for some quality time together when my siblings and I headed outdoors everyday, which would mean either a visit to the local recreation park or more likely the nearby countryside. We went looking for tadpoles if I remember correctly.
Of course in those days none of my family nor childhood friends had such things as bikes, scooters, skateboards or even pocket money so we had to entertain ourselves.
There were still the same potential dangers then as there are now, although probably less so, such as traffic etc.
I feel so sorry for today’s children who, although are given many more opportunities today, are more or less denied them, mostly by their parents.
I was quite shocked when I watched two TV programs in recent years.
In one I remember watching two countryside volunteers preparing paths etc., talking about the number of mothers requesting that all tree trunks and branches must be wrapped in some form of padded material so their kids wont be hurt when they run about in the countryside. They were also insisting that all wild animals were to be caged!
In a Channel 4 program about today’s “Cotton Wool Kids”, it showed a few of these children being more or less brain-washed by their parents on the stereo-typical members of the public who they considered a danger to their little darlings. These same children spoke of never being allowed outdoors until they turned 11 or 12 years old!
So is it little wonder that these kids are denied the advantages of visiting their local green-spaces!