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A generation of indoor kids

Two young children climb a tree to watch the street art performance at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival. Picture: Jennifer Bruce

Two young children climb a tree to watch the street art performance at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival. Picture: Jennifer Bruce

Published Jul 25, 2011

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London - A generation of children are in danger of growing into dysfunctional adults because they do not play outside, an expert has warned

A study found that 60 percent of youngsters would rather watch television or play computer games than venture outdoors.

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A third of children aged between six and 15 have never climbed a tree, a quarter have never rolled down a hill and almost half have never made a daisy chain, it found.

Researchers discovered that one in ten children cannot ride a bicycle and a third have no idea how to play hopscotch or build a den.

The decline of traditional outdoor games is in part due to the busy and sedentary lives of parents. Seven out of ten mothers and fathers said they rarely played with their children because they were too busy and the local park was too far away.

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One in seven parents said they did not feel fit enough to play with their children outside, while eight percent said they were too embarrassed.

Catherine Prisk, a former teacher and director of campaign group Play England, said children are missing out on vital experiences and may become dysfunctional adults.

“Playing outside, getting muddy, climbing trees and making daisy chains are simple pleasures many of today’s children are missing out on,” she said.

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“Children are likely to be more physically active when they play outside and are more likely to play with other children.

“This is essential for their emotional and physical health, wellbeing and happiness and is also important for their future development, to build vital life and social skills.

“When children learn to climb a tree they are learning to overcome a physical challenge and it will stand them in good stead for overcoming other challenges in life, such as learning to read.”

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She added: “If we do not address parents’ safety concerns and encourage our children to make the most of outdoor spaces we will breed a generation of dysfunctional adults.”

The research, carried out by antiseptic brand Savlon and Play England, found that 72 percent of today’s parents preferred playing outside when they were children.

A total of 59 percent of children would like to play outside more than they do, the study also found.

Austin Healey, a former England rugby international and father of four girls aged between three and nine, is backing the campaign.

He said: “When I saw these statistics I was genuinely alarmed. In some ways we have become an over protective, cotton-wool society but children need a chance to get out there.” - Daily Mail

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