Parenting on Female First

Parenting on Female First

Outdoor play is in dramatic decline as three fifths (62%) of parents believe their child has fewer opportunities to play than they did. What's more, three quarters of UK children (74%) spend less time outdoors than the 60 minutes recommended for prison inmates. A new global report released today shows that a third of (33%) UK children play outside for 30 minutes or less a day and alarmingly, one in five (18%) don't play outside at all.

What's more, it seems children are in danger of not engaging in outdoor adventure play, as one in ten parents (10%) have never been on an outdoor adventure with their child and almost half of UK parents (47%) worry that their child gets less adventure play time than they did.

The report 'Play in Balance', commissioned by Persil to launch the 'Dirt is Good' campaign, polled 12,000 parents worldwide. In the UK, the unreliable British weather (82%), lack of time (31%) and children wanting to stay inside (31%) were amongst the top barriers to outdoor play.

Traditional British outdoor games are also in decline, as the research found. Over half of under 7's (55%) have never attempted a game of conkers before. Almost two fifths (38%) have never played 'Stuck in the Mud.' Nearly eight out of ten parents (77%) admit that their children often refuse to play games without some form of technology being involved. Three quarters (75%) report that their child prefers to play virtual sports on a screen inside rather than playing 'real' sports outside.

Lack of time playing outside has led to UK children being out of touch with nature, as over half (54%) couldn't identify a classic British oak tree, and nearly two thirds (64%) were unable to identify the iconic spring Crocus flower. In contrast, an overwhelming 80% could identify pop sensation Justin Bieber and over two thirds (71%) could easily name girl band Little Mix.

When it comes to outdoor adventure play, one in 12 children (8%) voted their pet as their ideal companion and one in eight (12%) see Ben 10 as the ultimate adventurer, compared to their parents who voted for adventure-classic Indiana Jones (26%).

To draw further attention to the outdoor play deficit, Persil has created 'Free the Kids', a thought-provoking film that starkly illustrates the current imbalance in play. Filmed in a maximum security prison in Wabash, Indiana, Director Toby Dye spoke to prison inmates about what their outdoors time meant to them.

Mark Sears, Chief Wild Officer at The Wild Network comments "This research highlights everything that we know at The Wild Network about today's children - they aren't getting enough outdoor play and it has serious consequences. Yet the evidence is overwhelming - outdoor play is vital for children, it makes them happier and healthier. Free the Kids."

Clare Logan, Senior Brand Manager UK/Ire at Persil explains "We were shocked when we discovered that children today are spending less time outside than prisoners. That is why Persil decided to make 'Free The Kids', to bring this issue to life, and to start a global conversation about the importance of play for children's learning and development. In response, we are working with leading partners including The Wild Network and Empty Classroom Day to help families rediscover outdoor play, both at home and through schools."

To redress the play imbalance, Persil suggests that parents take three simple steps:

Get out today and play with your child. Go to for ideas on getting out and getting dirty.

Join the conversation @PersilUK - Persil has the views of experts and partners but needs to hear the voice of parents. What are the obstacles to outdoor play? How are parents feeling about their child's opportunities to play? Persil will then respond with more ways to support families.

Visit and sign up your child's school for Empty Classroom Day. Persil is a proud partner of the global initiative aiming to get children around the world learning outside of the classroom.

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