The great indoors: Today’s screen-hungry kids have little interest in being outside

LONDON — The Snapchat generation doesn’t seem to love the outdoors — at least not as much as doing other things. The average child between 6 and 16 years old spends only an hour a day outside, playing video games over twice as long, a new study finds.

Researchers at Decathlon, a sports retailer in the United Kingdom, recently surveyed more than 2,000 British parents and children, hoping to learn more about the recreational attitudes of society’s youngest generation. The researchers’ findings shed light on a number of phenomena.

Child laying on couch with phone
The average child between 6 and 16 years old spends only an hour a day outside, playing video games over twice as long, a new study finds.

Today’s children and teens, the survey found, prefer a whole host of activities over playing in the mud. These activities include gaming, watching TV, surfing the web, and listening to music. Believe it or not, some adolescents even preferred doing homework (10 percent) and completing chores (three percent) over enjoying the wilderness.

“With games such as ‘Fortnite’ taking over the lives of many young children, they would prefer to stay indoors than kick a football around with friends or wander through the woods,” says Chris Allen, a department manager at Decathlon, in a statement.

More shockers: four in ten British adolescents have never gone camping, nearly half have never built a den or fort, and more than half have never climbed a tree. Many who had tried these rites of passage couldn’t stop thinking about their devices.

“Today’s generation of children have more things than ever before to encourage them to stay inside – and it seems these gadgets are keeping them from enjoying the great outdoors,” says Allen. “We want to encourage parents and their children to head outside and enjoy a real-life family adventure!”

Parents, for their part, seem concerned. Over two-thirds worry that their children spend too little time outdoors, and nearly four in ten struggle so much to get their kids to leave the house that they actually have to force them to do so.

Three-fifths of parents blamed games like Fortnite for their child’s indoor tendencies, while three-fourths said they spent more time outside when they were the same age.

It’s not for a lack of effort: only a third of kids said they were even open to visiting a local park or garden.

Attitudes shift with maturity, so the jury is still out on whether kids will one day change their tune. Still, the early returns aren’t pretty.

Decathlon hired British market research firm OnePoll to conduct its survey earlier this year.

Comments

  1. The answer to this is simple, don’t give it to them in the first place. My first child was born 13 years ago and the closest thing to video games she played was some math game online. Same with my boys. We don’t have a game station, and no cable TV. I pick and choose educational youtube videos from time to time if we want to watch something. My kids play outside and make up their own stories and games, all of which is way more entertaining to listen to than some Hollywood pervert. I shake my head every time I see some two-year old playing on mommy’s iPad at the store. That mommy has no idea what kind of battles she’s in for later on in life. I’ve seen first hand the screaming and kicking of spoiled brats at moms for not being able to play.

  2. AND ALL OF THESE PEOPLE IN THE SUBURBS ALL WANT LARGE HOMES!!!!! WHY WOULD A KID GO OUTSIDE, IF THEY HAVE THEIR OWN ROOM, OWN BATHROOM, AND SEVERAL “FUN ROOMS” (DEN, FAMILY ROOM, MAN CAVE, ETC.)! THE FIRST THING THEY DO IS “FINISH THE BASEMENT”! (THEN KIDS HAVE NO PLACE TO “DO STUFF”! TOO MUCH FURNITURE, NOT ENOUGH SPACE TO BUILD THINGS, DO SCHOOL PROJECTS, ETC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
    I WANT TO GET A HOUSE WITH AN UNFINISHED BASEMENT AND A LARGE GARAGE! TO ACTUALLY DO STUFF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. It’s sad to see. Those of us that played outside from dawn till dark, 365 days a year remember the good times with friends…We NEVER said “I’m bored”…We were too busy…This is why so many children are obese these days…

    These kids will be a burden in the future, socially, economically, mentally…it’s up to the parents to remove the distractions…It’s the parents buying these things, the kids sure don’t have the money…

    BAN GAMES!..:)…

  4. The evidence is mounting ever larger about the catastrophic effects of such nature deficiency. Everything from mental health problems to poor academic peformance. Look into the issue and see for yourself. There is a huge trove of scholarly literature on this issue about children not getting enough time out in nature. And it is not good to say the very least.

  5. Seems we always pine for the past, usually remembering it as happier and safer. To read the comments you’d think there never was a danger to any kid ever prior to 1980. Tell that to the pioneers who braved the frontier. Depending upon Indian activity or bandits, you may have to keep your kids inside the cabin for weeks at a time or risk horrific dangers to them. And even before that the indigenous peoples had to carefully guard their brood from other warring tribes, not to mention wild animals. All that said, we live in the country, and our screen-free kids spend most of the day outdoors in the summer and get plenty of sunshine in the school year too since they’re home educated. But even still there are times when I have to keep them in for safety: storms, suspicious vehicle, rattlesnakes, heat, cold, rabid skunk infestation (this last spring), that month leading up to Halloween when you know the weirdos are out collecting, air quality during wildfire season, typical stuff we worry about. I have to say though, perhaps one reason that kids in this study and in general don’t want to go outside is that they’re in the city or suburbs where there’s very little nature out there. Nothing to do. Can’t escape the hum of human activity. Houses are crammed in like sardines on postage stamp lots, and the pavement is suffocating. My kids spy on baby animals, catch lizards, behead grasshoppers, have insect wars and fight black widows with preying mantises, pick in the garden, play baseball, ride bikes, climb ropes into trees, build forts, explore ditches, do work, chase chickens, collect eggs, shoot bows, shoot guns, throw knives, and that’s just the girls,LOL! My son has a machete and loves to go bush whacking!

  6. Wow! When I was a kid in the late fifties, and sixties, I and my friends spent more like seventy hours a week outside. Mom had to call us home for dinner;)

  7. And it’s the parents fault. All they’re raising is a bunch of flabby, out of touch, non-communicative kids. They’ll never know how to have a real relationship unless it has a keypad or controls.

  8. There’s a lot of reasons for this… We parents are just as bad about living on our phones. It’s kind of a “do as I say and not as I do” phenomenon… Helicopter parenting is still the norm. Most parents are too scared to let their kids wander the streets and “come home when the street lights go on.” And with all the stories out there about CPS getting calls from nosy neighbors every time they see an unaccompanied kid, it’s little wonder we keep them inside and on their screens. And when those of us who are lucky enough to work from home send our kids outside to play, no one else is there. My solutions: Get your PlayStations/Xboxes/whatever out of the house. Stop using devises as babysitters. Set real and enforceable limits. Find other families in your neighborhood who feel the same way as you do so there are actually other children outside when we send them out to play. Stop over-scheduling with adult run activities so kids have time for unstructured play. AND we adults need put down our screens too. Or else just accept that this is the new norm and be done with it.

  9. Take away kids’ devices. My six year old son lost his friend that lives across the street because his friend now has an iPad. The friend no longer comes over to our house. When my son goes over to his house he just wants to play on his iPad.

  10. As a child from the1950’s we played outside during the warm months all day and into the evenings. In the winter, we went sledding if we had snow. I was commenting to a family member that I NEVER see children playing outside anymore. Of course, we didn’t have TV channels other than 4, 5, 7 and 9 and my mother was a stay-at-home mother and no way would she have allowed us to sit inside watching TV unless it was winter and really cold. During the afternoon, mostly just boring soap operas we on and we didn’t watch those. We play board games outside and tag games, dress-up, with dolls, put on plays for the kids in the neighborhood as well as going to the local swimming pool. We had such a blast as kids that I feel for the ones today are missing out of such great socialization and fun activity.

    I can’t imagine how out of shape the kids today are just do to inactivity. I even see adults out walking their dog with their nose stuck in a smartphone. People don’t even walk and enjoy the scenery or looking at people.

  11. There’s your childhood obesity cause. Not food but the fact parents can’t let there kids outside because the criminal justice system is broken. If we hung molester, rapist and murderers when convicted these things would not happen and parents could feel safer about allowing their children to be children

  12. It is a logical conclusion that many of today’s children have a vitamin D deficiency that their parents are completely unaware of and their doctors too unless lab work has been done.

  13. One of the reasons I moved out in the country and dropped cable…..build a hug deck on the back of the house….. spend many evenings out there now……. my children enjoy it with plenty of room to play….. parents need to spend the time with their kids or they’ll gravitate to whatever gives them attention…… like “friends” online

  14. Here we have a paltry sampling from this story (with a little emphasis added):

    The average child between 6 and 16 years old spends only an hour a day outside, playing video games over twice as long, a new study finds.
    . . .
    Today’s children and teens, the survey found, prefer a whole host of activities over playing in the mud.
    . . .
    Believe it or not, some adolescents even preferred doing homework (10 percent) and completing chores (three percent) over enjoying the wilderness.

    Well, there you have three quite distinct (outdoor) activities, with only one of them qualifying as a ‘generic’ descriptor.

    As a child, I must say that I preferred nearly any activity — outdoor or indoor — to ‘playing in the mud’! Even though I frequently hung around small streams & river banks, I earnestly avoided getting into the mud. And, exactly none of the following . . . playing baseball, football, or hide & seek; swimming, building a snowman, learning to juggle throw a Frisbee (®), fling a boomerang, fly a paper (or small motorized) airplane; build and occupy a secret fort, explore old foundations of abandoned buildings … and thousands of other pursuits (including a precious few which decency compel me to avoid describing in any detail here) . . . had absolutely nothing to do with being in, or enjoying “the wilderness.

    Seems to me that ‘playing in the mud, and moving around out in the wilderness represent only a very tiny portion of the endless menu offerings of the great outdoors one experiences during childhood! Perhaps the author of this tale himself needed to get outside a little bit more himself back in the day!

  15. No wonder kids are so confused. People want them outside but they have all of the latest tech gadgets. Give these poor kids a break!

  16. I don’t know, this kind of study is so judgmental!

    Between the 10hrs that my wife spends on Facebook and Instagram, and the 10hrs that I have to spend watching my sports on tv, that leaves little time for us to doing anything time-consuming and boring such as taking a walk outside. Besides, it’s usually hot outside most of the time so between heat exhaustion and skin cancer, the risk of playing outside seems simply too great from my perspective.

    They have great hiking, fishing and camping apps these days anyways so anyone who does that stuff outside is probably missing some parts upstairs…if you know what I mean!

    1. You probably suffer a form of vitamin D deficiency that if not treated will lessen the quality of your life as you age.

  17. Maybe it’s because of all the pedophile predators who have snatched children while they were simply playing outdoors or walking to school. Parents had no choice but to keep a close eye on them. I remember being a free range kid in the 70’s and I’m lucky to be alive after all the opportunities there were for sickos to snatch me.

    Maybe it’s also the pesky mosquitos and deer ticks that give you the icks. I see one and bring the kids inside.

    1. I thank that has a lot to do with it these days also. Unless there are 4 kids together I would be worried. I think just two kids walking down the street could be snatched by a perv but 4 could overcome someone attempting a snatch. That is a very sad thought of what our children are missing in life because of perverts.

  18. When I was a kid we didn’t have indoors! We lived outside all the time!
    Sarcasm aside; these days most parents are inside all the time as well so their kids mimic them. Why would kids even want to go outside when mom ‘n dad are also plopped on the couch watching shows and stuffing crap down their mouths?
    I witnessed this happening while living in suburbia. Neighborhood kids all playing outside until they got their first ‘smart’ phone. Then they no longer came out. My kids were the only ones out playing, wondering where their friends went.

  19. I too remember better days when it was SAFE for kids to be outside doing whatever we did. Now thanks to libturds liberal policies, criminals walk our streets with impunity. The catch-n-release mentality of our justice system brought on by leftist lawsuits on behalf of incarcerated criminals has made it too dangerous for our kids to venture outside without adult supervision 100% of the time.

  20. Small wonder in this day and age when parents have been considered negligent or abusive for allowing their children to make the 3 block walk to the park without adult supervision. Sure, kids are hypnotized by the screens and electronics but, added to that, the world has changed. I remember hitchhiking home from high school and everywhere else I wanted to go for a few years as a young man. When was the last time you’ve hitchhiked or even seen a hitchhiker let alone given one a ride?

    1. @joe_in_oh:disqus After WWII, and all throughout the baby boom era, one of the great abiding concerns of parents everywhere, was the fear of having something happen to a child who was picked up while hitch-hiking … or, perhaps even more so, a youngster who was ‘offered’ an unsolicited ride perhaps while he or she was walking, or even riding a bike somewhere. And some of that concern was indeed very well-founded!

      But I suspect that a lot of the ‘sheltering’ overreactions you referenced, especially those beginning back the ’80s, probably helped to solidify the current cultural tendency for children to be encouraged to spend such an inordinate percentage of their time indoors.

  21. I’m sounding like an old fart here but summers in jr. high thru high school every one of us kids in the neighborhood
    were outside playing baseball/stickball/fishing 9 hours a day, never mind a week.

  22. All kids (and adults) could use more activity. No argument here. However, at what age do you feel comfortable leaving children alone to play, explore, etc? Until a certain age, children require supervision which means time outside is more limited when parents complete tasks indoors. Additionally, during the school year, there is home work (even at the first grade), dinner, bath, reading and bed. If you want kids to get a good night’s sleep then bed time can be 7:00 – 8:00. If the parent is off at 5:00 then two hours to do all the above isn’t much.

    1. Another point is the windows were wide open because none of us had air-conditioning, the mothers were home inside doing housework but if a kid screamed, moms would come running. Therefore, there wasn’t any snatching of kids back then. (1050’s)

      But I can remember in 1975 the Lyons sisters were snatched and we were also so horrified as we never heard of an incident happening like that. Things changed after that and it has been downhill since. Reading just now about the Lyon sisters, it says they finally convicted a perv in 2017 for these two little girls murders.

  23. When I was a kid that’s the amount of time we spent INSIDE…if that! The only time we were inside was to eat & sleep.

    1. I use to get my but tanned for not coming home on time. In morning my mom would give me a choice start doing housework or get out…it was always a no brainer.

      1. We were raised the same way too…breakfast, then out the door free to roam the woods, climb trees, build forts, play marbles in the sand, Our “snacks” came from trees and vines.

        Long gone are the days when we don’t have to constantly watch our kids. The blame? The deepening of the mental sickness of society; child abductions, predators, gangs. Television is a culprit, but the courts are a bigger culprit for not dealing a much heavier hand with pedophiles and child corruptors.

        Also to blame is the society that forces a woman out of her home to earn the second income, instead of staying in her own home to raise her own children. Throw illegal drugs into this mixture and what do you have? At least sitting around the house, the little guys are safe, not healthy, but safe.

        1. wild blackberries, pecans,apples, pears, blueberries, strawberries, black walnuts , also had a river to fish , had fire pit back in the woods we would catch’em clean’em cook’em man we had it so good. I remember as a kid leaving friday after school and coming back sunday .

  24. For several years, I have rarely seen any kids riding bikes. When I was a kid, there was nothing better than exploring new areas on bike with my friends to look for adventure.

    1. It’s because now you are required to wear a helmet and you can’t ride on the sidewalk in a lot of areas.

      1. TRUE! NOT SAFE ON THE STREETS. NO ONE ON THE SIDEWALK, BUT YOU GET HARASSED IF YOU USE IT FOR A BIKE (IN A SAFE WAY, NOT BOTHERING WALKERS)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  25. One minute they want to reduce the threat of skin cancer, the next minute they want the children to go play in the sun? This must be a mental illness.

      1. Yup. Being indoors was boring. Don’t forget that we were acclimated to the temperatures because everywhere (stores, houses and cars) was not cooled to 75 degrees. We never noticed the heat.

    1. Exactly. Best comment I have read today. Weather was same then as now. Climate change is just a money grab.

      1. I humbly accept the award and would like to thank all of my supporters who made this possible.

  26. As kids back in the 1950s we spent most of our time outdoors, except in winter. Then we got a TV…..

    1. Ah winter, the ’50s:-) About 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Street football or curb ball. Then up to supper and afterward, homework. THEN “The Shadow” or the “Lone Ranger” or Jack Benny all on the radio. I’d lay back on the living room rug close my eyes and go where the radio show took me. Wow!

      1. @disqus_YHqc6EH0F1:disqus

        “I’d lay back on the living room rug close my eyes and go where the radio show took me.”

        Yep … which place was inevitably some location outdoors, and usually out West!

          1. @disqus_YHqc6EH0F1:disqus Yep. For me, there is nothing quite like that ‘high range!’

            Having both grown up, and attended the bulk of my ‘higher education’ years ‘back East,’ I really didn’t spend too much time ‘Out West,’ until after having served overseas in the military, way back in the very late ’60s, and then attended law school for three more.

            But when I finally did head west (of here: NJ), I visited various places out there, such as Hawaii, Arizona, the hills of (Western) N. Carolina, Oklahoma, (Northern) California, a few areas of the Yucatan, down in Mexico & and then, once or twice, out across the mountainous areas of Colorado and down onto the high range. But most of that was at either ‘conference’ or vacation time, back during my working days.

            Having once ‘winter’ hiked down to the Colorado River and back up the South Rim in the Grand Canyon, or a few years later, having driven from Denver, up and over the mountains, and headed West across that ‘high range’ on my way (that year) to Crested Butte . . . I can now look back and say those experiences all helped fill in a few of my ‘childhood’ imaginings about the West. Included therein were a few short but sweet doses of reality regarding what I had only imagined back during my childhood, or even as an adult reading Larry McMurtry books, that it was really like ‘Out West.’

            So for me, even to this day, there is nothing quite like being out on that high range.

          2. @disqus_YHqc6EH0F1:disqus ?? Well, at the time, I didn’t figure I was confused at all. And I definitely wanted to survive. It was also abundantly clear by that time that our ‘Far Eastern’ enterprise was, on the whole, becoming a huge bust.

            However, I certainly wasn’t about to let anyone else have to take my place in the service if I got drafted (i.e., by cooking up some phony basis for a medical deferment, or refusing induction, or heading off to Canada.) I figured at the time that I wanted to be able to look in the mirror for the rest of my life. I also figured I’d work my way through the system, and not do anything unduly stupid. Plus, I had the distinct advantage of having read Catch 22 by Joseph Heller.

            So, when I got drafted, and worked my way through Basic & AIT, I was assigned to that ‘Land Clearing’ unit upon being shipped overseas. I ended up located at the sprawling Bien Hoa Army Base, several miles northeast of Saigon, in the III Corps area. Our guys — 62d Engr. Bn. — deployed (mostly D-7) bulldozers to chop down jungle areas, including some beautiful big tree stands. That activity was focused primarily in III Corps (Saigon to Tay Ninh) & IV Corps (the Delta), plus, while I was there, in Cambodia (Parrot’s Beak & Dog’s Head), in order to try to break up and ‘deny’ sanctuary areas, including ammo caches, to the VC & NVA. And we also cleared areas back from all the various roadsides in the countryside, to try to reduce ambushes and infiltration.

            It was way back in December ’69 when I arrived there. Consequently, I spent 13 months there (extended for a month) & thereby qualified for an ‘early out’ when I returned stateside at the beginning of ’71.

          3. Trochilus, I think you may have missed what I was joking to you about. In WW II, CBs were the Construction Battalion engineers jokingly referred to as the confused b*stards for putting an air strip on a wrong island in the Pacific. I meant no disrespect of your service which I thank you for.
            Me, in 1967 at 25 when I came out of school, the Draft x-rayed my hips and knee and said Pete, pregnant women first. Get outta of here unless you sign a waiver. I had been crippled as a kid for 5 years.

  27. Mommy and Daddy take line of least resistance to keep them out of their hair… Instead of encourging hiking, sports, park visits, walking dog, exploring world in general…
    Mommy and Daddy too damn lazy….root cause

      1. Funny that you say that. 🙂 I was going to comment about how myopia is a growing problem noticed in South Korea where kids spend even more time indoors – thought to be caused by spending time looking at screens close up – rather than being outdoors, in sunlight, looking at farther distances.

      1. Diversity is a strength! (for non whites moving into white places only)
        “Diversity is a strength” really says “White people are a weakness”

        That’s why they say Anti racist is code for Anti white
        That’s why they say Diversity is code for White Geno Cide

    1. OFTEN THIS IS TRUE!

      ANOTHER PROBLEM (AND IT WAS, FOR DECADES) IS THAT MOST PEOPLE (KIDS/ADULTS) DO NOT TRY AND WATCH EDUCATION TV SHOWS! THEY THINK NETWORK/CABLE IS GOOD STUFF. IT IS REALLY A PILE OF T*RDS!

    2. I agree. I see young men and women going on hiking, bicycling trips, etc. with their friends and leaving the kids at home instead of taking them. The young parents are so exhausted from work and trying to “Give Back,” they don’t have time to spend time with their own children. Every time I see parents of young kids who work full time taking a week-end day to spend helping others, I can’t help but think if everyone would take care of their home and family, that would serve to make better communities. I’m not against helping others; I just see too many parents leaving their kids at home, or taking their small children with them and letting them play on their tablets while they are doing the “Helping Others,” thing. At least have the kids working beside you to help others, giving them an example to follow. I think it could be more about selfishness than laziness.

  28. I remember 70 years ago, after dinner, the kids would meet on a vacant lot and play baseball.

    I also remember walking two miles to the city swimming pool.

    After swimming, on the way home, I would stop by the public library, to sign out books to read that evening.

    1. 70 years ago? That’s where you base an argument? Well, I bet 100 years ago people walked everywhere, uphill, in both directions.

      1. arguement? you missed the boat. It was a simpler/happier time. If you didnt grow up prior to 1980, you missed out.

    2. NO PARENTS WILL NOT LET THEM WALK TWO BLOCKS TO SCHOOL!!!!!!!! THEY DRIVE THEM OR THEY FORCE SCHOOLS TO PROVIDE A BUS!

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