Skip to main content

A recent study1 by childcare solutions company, Kiddi Caru, has revealed that children are only outdoors for three hours or less per week.

According to the NHS physical guidelines for under fives, toddlers should be active for at least three hours per day. This calculation doesn’t actually include indoor play which, for some toddlers, may include screen time.

Kiddi Caru surveyed 300 parents who have children aged between two and five years old, which revealed some interesting insights. It was reported that 44% of toddlers have never held a bug, 36% haven’t collected sticks, 35% have yet to dig in mud, and 30% haven’t fed ducks.

These results have come to light at a time when future generations must begin to change their view of conservation and support the environment. It was recently reported on BBC Breakfast that tech is even replacing bedtime stories.

How can the fitness industry engage our younger members of society, and their parents, with the great outdoors? We will be exploring this very topic in the Autumn issue of Fitpro magazine.

In response to the news, Aislinn Kelly, a mother of two based in Leeds, said, “I have a two-and-a-half year old and a six-month old and I find this research alarming. In my experience, as a mother and from what I see in the local park on a daily basis, children actually WANT to move, and it’s up to parents and carers to facilitate this. If I didn’t get my highly energetic toddler out of the house every day, he would climb the walls with excess energy and boredom. My son adores being out in the garden and it’s all part of his mental and physical development.”

When it comes to the tech interference, Kelly added, “It seems as if the TV is used by adults as a babysitter. When I read reports such as this, it makes me fearful for this young generation’s future.”

Is screen time to blame?

New guidelines from the World Health Organization has revealed that children under 5 should not get very much exposure to screens and those under 1 should have none at all. The data from Kiddi Caru revealed this is not the case.

Despite 93% of UK parents believing toddlers and young children are spending too much time on screens, 31% of children aged 2-5 get up to three hours of screen time per day, with 60% of children in this age group having access to their own tablet and 29% of parents not setting screen time limits.

The majority of parents in the study (41%) introduced their children to screens at the age of two, but 57% of parents with multiple children admitted to introducing their younger children to them earlier than their first child.

Fiona Blackwell, quality care and education director at Kiddi Caru, said: “Often, being outdoors means children are calmer and happier, and more likely to engage in the learning process. It also gives them the opportunity to ‘burn off’ excess energy, which in turn aids appetite and helps children to sleep better.”

Blackwell added, “Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones, and children not only benefit during the summer months, but in the winter during daylight hours, meaning there is every reason to get outdoors in whatever weather. After all, there is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing.”

We must also recognise the challenges faced by city children to gain access to prolonged periods of outdoor activity. The ‘Farms for City Children’ initiative is an example of an organisation that is striving towards making a positive difference. For more information, please visit: