Today’s kids are more inclined to stay indoors and watch television, play computer games and in some cases, even do their homework, rather than go outside to play, says new research.

Parenting on Female First

Parenting on Female First

The figures show during the 1970s and 1980s, when the current generation of parents was children, they enjoyed more than two hours of outside play each weekday and a further nine hours at weekends - whatever the weather.

But today’s youngsters venture outside for just over an hour each weekday, and less than five hours on Saturdays and Sundays, according to a study by JCB Kids to mark the launch of its ‘Fresh Air Campaign’.

Sam Johnson, spokesperson for JCB Kids, said: “It is alarming the extent to which today’s children are missing out on the outdoor play time which we enjoyed as children.

“Playing outdoors is so important for children – not only to help them stay active and healthy, but also to socialise with friends - and create those treasured childhood memories which we look back on so fondly.

“There are many distractions which divert kids’ attention from going outside, but as parents we need to encourage adventurous spirit and create imaginative, and of course safe, opportunities for them to get out there.

“Today’s children are spending a lot of time in front of the TV, playing on consoles and staring at computer screens.”

The study of 2,000 parents revealed the average parent spent ten hours and 26 minutes playing outside during the working week whilst they were children - double the five hours and 32 minutes children head outdoors today.

Weekends showed similar results with youngsters spending just four hours and 32 minutes outside over the two days compared to the nine hours their parents played outdoors in the same period.

It also emerged that 44 per cent of parents wish their children played outdoors more often, with 58 per cent saying their children don’t play outside as much as other youngsters they know.

And more than half of mums and dads seriously worry their child doesn’t spend enough time playing outdoors.

Instead, 43 per cent say their children would rather watch television than go outside to play with friends, while another two fifths prefer to play computer games.

Parents also said their children would rather surf the internet and listen to music, with almost one in ten even claiming their offspring favoured doing their homework to going outside.

A third of parents polled also said their children will only play outside when it is sunny, with just 17 per cent going outdoors whatever the weather.

In comparison, almost one in three parents said they enjoyed the fresh air come wind, rain or shine.

Cath Prisk, Director of Play England, a UK wide charitable organisation who promote outdoor play for children, said: “It’s a sad reality that many kids don’t get outside to play every day anymore.

“And because they don’t go out, they don’t know their own communities as well as their parents did, they don’t have as many friends in the area and they don’t have the same opportunities for fun that many of their parents did.”

The research also found that 43 per cent of parents even admitted they rely on school to ensure their children are getting plenty of time outdoors through PE and play times and spend very little outdoor time with their children themselves.

Top 10 Things Children Would Rather do Than Play Outside:

1. Watch TV

2. Play computer games

3. Play games

4. Play with toys

5. Read books

6. Go on the internet

7. Listen to music

8. Read magazines

9. Do their homework

10. Do chores

Tell us your thoughts on this research - why do you think kids don't play outdoors as much anymore? Comment below or tweet us @FemaleFirst_UK