The present generation’s childhood is a lot different than that of the last generation. The biggest change being the degree to which children spend time indoors. Also, due to the pandemic, children were cooped up at home. The time they spent playing video games or watching TV increased significantly during the last months. Nowadays children are not interested in outdoor play.
The increase in screen time and remaining indoors all day has led to a variety of studies that reveal how these habits negatively impact a child’s health and development.
Also, with time, there are not many safe places or nature trail for kids to play. Not only children but adults are spending more time indoors as well. There is plenty of evidence that talks about the advantages of going out and playing outdoors.
Let’s take a look at a few of them:
Sunshine is important for the body. It gets us Vitamin D that is crucial for a variety of processes such as bone development and our immune system. This doesn’t mean that you stay out in the sun for long and get sunburnt. Going out in the sunlight and getting sun exposure is important for our immune system. It leads to healthy sleep and improves mood as well. Bodies function well when they get some sunshine daily.
Playing in the outdoors is great for encouraging children’s creativity. A child’s imagination gets stimulated by the objects around them. They get a new perspective and think of new games. So many things can be made out of the natural trails for kids where children view things differently than an adult’s perspective.
Exercise and Better Health
Playing outside comes with a variety of health benefits. Children have more space to play whether it’s a garden or a park. They are more active when they are outside as they have a place to run and engage in physical activities. This helps them grow stronger bones. At the same time, they burn off the extra energy and calories. Children need to be active for an hour every day. They can play ball, ride a bike, or go for a walk on a nature trail and spend time between plants.
Independence and Social Skills
Sure, parents should supervise children. But when children are not indoors but playing in the playground farther from parental supervision, it helps them learn independence. They learn to socially interact with each other and make friends. They learn about playing games, taking turns, how to play by themselves, and learn to be on their own.
Since outdoor spaces are less crowded than indoors, it is less intimidating. Children come out of their shells and become social. They are willing to play more and interact with other children.
When children play outside, they develop their learning abilities. Parents can put educational equipment outdoors so that children can learn through play. This way, they learn new skills and information. There are many outdoor games as well that help children learn such as camping, hiking, and nature trails. This can be a learning experience and they realize it is an ongoing process and not something confined to the classroom only.
As said earlier, sunshine and the outdoors affect our mood. When children play outdoors, it makes them feel calmer and happier. Vitamin D acquired from the sunlight improves mood and creates a positive mental state as well. Also, playing outdoors is a great way to use the built-up energy fidgety children seem to have. Outdoor games make them calmer.
Whether you encourage the children to use the jungle-gym or slides on the park or challenge themselves on a natural trail, outdoor play allows the children to go beyond their comfort zones and push their boundaries. Moreover, they become better at risk assessment as well.
Simply put, outdoor play teaches children to explore new games, become confident, and learn new things themselves.
The world is changing at a fast pace. Too many things are changing simultaneously. If a child grows up without walking in the woods or enjoying nature trails, digging soil, climbing trees, playing in a stream, and seeing animals in their natural habitat, they are missing out on so many things.
Our planet’s future depends on our children, they should learn to appreciate nature and the beauty it beholds. So, take your children outdoors for play. Tag along. Do all that you can do to make them connect to nature and enjoy outdoor activities. This way, they would grow healthy both physically and mentally as staying close to nature has profound benefits for human health.