Most parents today say their kids don’t spend enough time outside anymore

NEW YORK — More than half of American parents believe their kids aren’t spending enough time playing outside (55%). A survey of 5,000 parents of children between five and 13 — split evenly by state — finds that 57 percent worry their kids aren’t as excited about playing outside as they were when they were young. In fact, parents have to tell their kids to play outside an average of four times a week.

Parents in Alaska, Arizona, and Missouri are telling their kids to play outside most – at an average of six times a week. The top reasons parents tell their children to go play outside include getting some fresh air (51%), taking a break from their digital devices (47%), and for exercise (42%).

Thirty-five percent of parents also encourage their children to play outside in order to positively impact their mental health – as well as have some quiet time for themselves.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Claritin®, the survey found parents reported their child typically spends just five hours a week playing outside – less than an hour a day.

The states where their kids get outside the most (playing outside an average of six hours a week) include Alaska, Arizona, Missouri, North Dakota, and Wyoming.

Back in my day…

More than three-quarters (76%) of parents agree most of their time spent as a child was spent playing outside, while 74 percent feel that kids these days don’t appreciate the outdoors as much as they did.

Nearly four in five (78%) went on to agree their favorite childhood memories were of playing outside, so it’s not surprising that 85 percent say it’s important to them that their children spend time outside as well.

Parents in South Carolina were the most likely to agree it’s important that their child plays outside (98%), followed by Montana parents (97%), and 96 percent of parents in Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, and Maryland.

When kids are excited to get outside, their backyard (61%), front yard (54%), and local park (50%) are the top places to hang out. However, parents admit their family would spend even more time outside if their personal space (72%) or local park (64%) was more exciting.

play outdoors

Making memories and living better

Seventy-five percent of parents say creating memories of playing outdoors with their child is a top priority and believe that their physical health (72%), creativity and imagination (63%), and their mental health (60%) would be positively impacted with more outside play.

“Our survey showed us that 66 percent of parents believe it’s important for them to recreate their outdoor childhood memories with their kids,” says Catherine Vennat, a spokesperson for Claritin®, in a statement. “Last year, we introduced families to The Outsideologist Project, a multi-year initiative that provides families with tools, resources and inspiration to spend more time outside. This year, we’re excited to continue that momentum and inspire parents to recreate their favorite memories outside with their kids.”

Hide and seek is the top activity parents fondly remember from their childhoods (60%) and is also their child’s current favorite playtime activity (43%).

Kids these days enjoy water balloon fights (42%), playing tag (42%), and going to the playground (41%). Two in five parents add their children also enjoy outdoor sports, riding around on their bike or scooter, and swimming.

Thirty-seven percent say their children also just enjoy running around the neighborhood with their friends as well as playing catch (36%) and jumping rope (28%).

“The survey revealed that 65 percent of parents surveyed are often trying to come up with creative new activities to keep their child excited about getting outside,” Vennat continues. “We’re excited to provide families with those fun and creative ways to get outside, whether in their own backyard, local park, or anywhere in between, so they can enjoy the many mental and physical health benefits that come with it.”

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About the Author

Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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