Children ‘prefer to play outdoors than watch TV’

I missed this earlier in the week, but the BBC is reporting a survey that suggests children would rather be playing outdoors than watching television, but parents’ concerns keep them indoors…

The poll of nearly 3,000 parents and children by Eureka Children’s Museum in West Yorkshire found 81% of children prefer playing outside to watching TV.

But half of the parents and carers surveyed said they did not let their child leave their home or garden.

Just 37% said they let their youngster to go to the end of the street.

In total, 2,823 parents and children, aged 5-11, took part in the poll, with an approximate split of 52% children (1,456 respondents) and 48% parents (1,367 respondents).

The findings show young people are unlikely to stray very far from home, because concerns about road traffic and strangers mean most parents do not let them outside without supervision.

While 95% of adults agreed it was good for children to take risks when playing, about one in four said they would not let their child take these risks without a safe environment to play in.

Many parents believed their children did not have the same freedoms as they did as youngsters.

They put this down to heavier traffic making playing in the streets more dangerous, as well as a lack of community spirit and fear of strangers…

The study concludes: “Parents need to be provided with the tools and confidence to allow their children more freedom to play outside, or the next generation of children will become even more housebound than the current one.

“Parents and carers must be empowered to work with local councils on setting up street play initiatives aimed at closing off streets and instilling a sense of shared trust and collective care within a street community.”…

More at: Children ‘prefer to play outdoors than watch TV’


There is always a danger with a survey like this that respondents give the answer they think they should give rather then reflecting what they would actually chose, but at face value there is a significant difference between what children want and what parents will allow. How to square the circle? Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…


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  1. GemmaStringer4

    SchoolsImprove well of course they do!! #obviously It’s just the parents can’t be bothered getting the little ones out!!x

  2. When it is just one survey of a small number of people, that’s one thing but when the results are the same year after year in different communities all over the nation, eventually the case is made.

    It is possible to do something positive about this issue and there are organisations, including local and national play charities, businesses such as my own, schools (OPAL already has 200+ primary school clients) and even parts of the government who are already doing good work and seeing some success in convincing parents to let their children play outside, but it took decades to get to where we find ourselves now and it will take just as much time to turn the tide back.

    Headteachers, local government officers in Planning, Parks, Housing and Transport depts. and local Public Health teams can all help children and their parents by making changes to the outdoor environment and by changing the way their own staff approach children’s need (and right, under UNCRC Article 31) to play. 
    I just hope that when today’s children grow up and have kids of their own, they will remember what they said in these surveys and not prevent their own offspring from playing outside.

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