Is Playing Outside a Thing of the Past?


If you have children at home, chances are that at least one of them got either a gaming device and/or video games for Christmas this year. Nothing wrong with that, but more and more, children are opting to stay indoors with their electronic devices instead of going outside to play.

Quoting a source from the National Recreation and Parks Association, an article by Erin Spandorf of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette states that only 25% of children play outside every day — no wonder there’s such a rise in the childhood obesity rate.  According to the NRPA, until the last couple of decades,  75% of children played outside every day.

I sure did — some of my best memories, if not the vast majority of them are from playing outside with friends and family –  from flash light tag and hide and go seek, to hopscotch and shuffleboard, we played outside for hours.

Of course, things have certainly changed socially and culturally since then — the term “stranger danger” wouldn’t be coined for several decades after my own childhood; simply allowing them to stay outside until dark isn’t a prudent thing to do these days.

So how do we encourage our children to spend time outside each day while still keeping them safe? We can go out there with them, especially when they are very young. Linda K says that when she was raising her kids, she made peace early on with the fact that her kids want to be with her whether they were outside or in — so she takes a book and goes out with them while they play at various times throughout the  day.  She says she benefits from the fresh air and exercise as much as her kids do.

When my son was young, he had so much energy that unless it was extremely cold and wet outside, we spent time outdoors every day. I would “time” him as he ran around our house — he did it over and over again, until he ran out of gas. The rest of the day was much more pleasant, and he was able to wind down for bedtime a lot sooner.

Setting a good example also helps; parental influence goes along way when it comes to motivating kids to become more physically active — the Mayo Clinic encourages parents to engage in outdoor activities with their children, like taking family walks and playing catch in the yard.


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