You are here

Study: Children Today Less Likely to Play Outside


The amount of time your kids spend outdoors is nothing to play around about. Put down their iPad, Kindle, game controller, or Wii remote; a new study says they’re in desperate need of more sunshine and less screen-time.  

Findings recently published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine reported that almost half of American preschool-aged kids are not getting enough supervised playtime outside—not even a single session outside per day. Researchers analyzed the outdoor-activity routines of nearly 9,000 children born in 2001 who were tracked until they entered kindergarten. Mothers were interviewed about their child’s experience playing outdoors at ages nine months, two years, four years, and post-kindergarten enrollment.

The study’s authors stressed the importance of outdoor play in particular because of the critical role it plays in a child’s development of motor skills, vision and mental acuity. 

PLUS: Why Kids Need Recess and Exercise

While researchers found that parents who followed exercise routines themselves were more likely to encourage time spent outside, moms were almost twice as likely as dads to supervise outdoor play. But more moms outside didn’t translate to more daughters there too: young girls were actually 16 percent less like than boys to be taken outside. Race also played a factor in access to outdoor play, with Asian moms 49 percent less likely to take their kids out to play, and black and Hispanic moms 41 and 20 percent, respectively, less likely to do so than white mothers.

PLUS: Is My Child Ready to Play Outdoors Alone? 

Rahil Briggs, a child psychologist with Children's Hospital at Montefiore, in New York City, told HealthDay that she was not surprised by the study’s finding thanks to the vast availability of today’s kid-friendly tech-y gadgets.  However, she urged parents to still get their kids outside, "Parents need to change their thinking about outdoor play as a luxury that they can get in for their kids on a Saturday, to something along the lines of a necessity.”

How often does your kid get to play outside?  Are there any reasons why you would prefer for him to stay indoors?