Children missing out on “simple pleasures” in a world dominated by computer games


COMPUTER games and TV mean many children never experience simple pleasures such as splashing in puddles or building a sandcastle.

That’s the warning from the Eco Attractions Group (EAG), an organisation which represents visitor attractions with an environmental theme, including the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh.

Researchers for EAG found that a range of traditional nature activities could soon become a thing of the past.

Children enjoy the simple pleasure of playing with autumn leaves at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh
Children enjoy the simple pleasure of playing with autumn leaves at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh


Playing in open spaces and woodland, planting their own seeds and climbing trees are also among the activities a large number of today’s youngsters have never tried.

It emerged the average child spends just under five hours a week playing outside – almost half the 11 hours a week their parents did.

David Hardy, spokesman for EAG, which commissioned the research, said: “For many people, these activities made up a huge chunk of our childhood, and left us with the memories and experience of our natural world to go with it.

“But today’s children seem to be struggling to experience a large number of them for themselves.

“Nowadays, children have much more to keep them amused – computers, a host of TV channels and smart phones – something older generations didn’t have.

“As a result, youngsters are missing out on getting dirty in the mud and puddles or simply spending time in the fresh air.”

EAG say their attractions offer safe environments for families to explore and learn about nature.

The study, of 2,000 parents, revealed 35 per cent of modern children haven’t splashed in puddles to the point where they end up soaked, while another 44 per cent haven’t had the experience of walking through squelchy mud.”

Less than half have built sandcastles at the beach, 53 per cent haven’t had a picnic outside of their own back garden and just 44 per cent go on bike rides with their family.

Even everyday activities are in decline with just under two thirds saying they have never had a go at flying a kite, 66 per cent claiming to have never made a daisy chain and seven in ten never going blackberry picking.

But while more than three quarters of parents would like their children to spend more time outside than they currently do, one in ten say their offspring simply don’t enjoy spending time in the great outdoors.Instead, given the choice, only 28 per cent of parents say their children would choose to play outside.


Top 30 childhood activities children are most likely to have done:


Splashed in puddles and got wet


Built a snowman


Walked through squelchy mud


Played in a forest/woodland


Had a snowball fight


Played in a local park or playing field


Built a sandcastle


Had a picnic somewhere other than your own garden


Gone on bike rides


Played in the rain


Planted their own seeds


Climbed a tree


Paddled in the sea/stream/river


Skimmed stones across a river/lake


Gone plant/animal spotting


Searched for bugs and insects


Helped to grow fruit and vegetables


Flown a kite


Made a daisy chain


Looked for birds


Knocked conkers off a tree


Gone blackberry picking


Had a conker fight


Camped outside


Pond dipping


Played ‘pooh sticks’


Hunted for animals in rock pools


Built a den from sticks and branches


Gone crabbing


Found frogspawn