Traditional childhood activities becoming a thing of the past


Home » Traditional childhood activities becoming a thing of the past

Simple things like making a daisy chain, splashing in puddles, building sandcastles and playing pooh sticks in decline

 The Centre for Alternative Technology is part of the UK wide Eco Attractions group an alliance of leading British visitor attractions with a strong environmental theme. 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 of 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.

Recent research commissioned by the group has shown that a generation of children are growing up without experiencing simple pleasures such as splashing in puddles or mud, building a sandcastle – 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.Motisfont - Christopher Robin and Pooh playing poohsticks, -® The E.H. Shepard Trust, reproduced by permission of Curtis Brown Group

Playing 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 spends just under five hours a week playing outside – almost half the 11 hours a week their parents did.

 David Hardy, spokesperson for the 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.

These traditional activities can be a great way of encouraging children to spend more time outdoors, get more exercise and create more memories than they will get from simply sitting in front of a computer or TV screen.

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 35 per cent of modern children haven’t splashed in puddles to the point where they end up soaked, while another 44 per cent haven’t had the experience of walking through squelchy mud.Less than half have built sandcastles at the beach, 53 per cent haven’t had a picnic outside of their own back garden and just 44 per cent go on bike rides with their family.Only four in ten children have planted their own seeds to grow plants or flowers from scratch, while just over a third have helped to grow fruit and vegetables.

Animal spotting is also becoming less popular, with two thirds of children saying they have never looked for birds, only 35 per cent have gone searching for insects and just 22 per cent trying pond dipping. Even everyday activities are in decline with just under two thirds saying they have never had a go at flying a kite, 66 per cent claiming to have never made a daisy chain and seven in ten never going blackberry picking.

daisychain

But while more than three quarters of parents would like their children to spend more time outside than they currently do, one in ten say their offspring simply don’t enjoy spending time in the great outdoors.Instead, given the choice, only 28 per cent of parents say their children would choose to play outside. A quarter of parents say their youngsters would rather stay at home playing computer games or watching TV with friends, with another 13 per cent choosing to watch TV or play on their computer alone.

As a result, two thirds of parents worry about whether their children are experiencing enough of the traditional childhood activities, but eight in ten admit they probably need to make more effort, or find more time, to play with their children outdoors. It emerged that while 58 per cent of parents put the reluctance of today’s children to go outside down to there being more for them indoors thanks to computers and TVs, 48 per cent think parents are more concerned about letting children play outdoors than they were in the past.

But worryingly, one in four parents says they don’t live near a green space or somewhere with outdoor activities for their children.

Tony Jones, from Eco Attractions Group, added: “The Easter holidays are just around the corner and we encourage all parents to try and get their kids closer to nature.

There are some amazing and exciting activities out there and kids get a huge amount from experiencing the natural world. As well as the pure joy of nature, there is plenty of evidence that shows that kids exposed to nature perform better at school, so it really is worthwhile making the effort.

Try visiting an attraction that’s near you, they will have special Easter activities for the kids. Many are in or close to cities and easy to get to.

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

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 of 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.

For further information go to www.ecoattractions.com

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