Time to Go Outside and Play

Today’s Washington Post has an article discussing the lack of outdoor play for many of today’s children:

“Kids don’t think about going outside like they used to, and unless there is some scheduled activity, I don’t think they know what to do outdoors anymore,” Pelzman said.

Pelzman’s view is shared by a growing number of children’s advocates, environmentalists, business executives and political leaders who fear that this might be the first generation of “indoor children,” largely disconnected from nature.

Concerns about long-term consequences — affecting emotional well-being, physical health, learning abilities, environmental consciousness — have spawned a national movement to “leave no child inside.” In recent months, it has been the focus of Capitol Hill hearings, state legislative action, grass-roots projects, a U.S. Forest Service initiative to get more children into the woods and a national effort to promote a “green hour” in each day.

I have seen a number of articles in recent weeks expressing concern about this trend. For example, last week’s Daily Mail had an interesting article tracing the loss of children’s ability to roam over four generations in Sheffield, England. Here is a map showing the difference in “childhood roaming territory” for a great-grandfather, a grandfather, a mother, and her son.

Childhood Roaming Territory for Four Generations

When I was a kid I remember being outside a lot – playing basketball, running around in the woods, riding my bike all over town, fishing, etc. My mother often kicked us out of the house for the whole afternoon until supper time. And then there were many nights playing tag or kick-the-can outdoors after supper.

Why do you think kids today are “getting lost in the great indoors?” Is this a problem? What do kids miss by not spending more time outside?

HT: Instapundit


  1. Leslie says:

    This is fascinating to me. Growing up, I was allowed to roam during the day. The only rule my mother imposed was that I be home before dark. Today, I have four children of my own and I NEVER feel comfortable letting them leave our yard without an adult with them. We have a fairly large yard and they are allowed into the “woods” directly to our rear, but I won’t even let them play in our front yard unless I can see them. However, when we are visiting my grandmother, I allow them to roam in the woods because she lives on a large piece of land, and I don’t worry that they will be stolen. With children being taken from their yards or even their bedrooms, I think these days parents are afraid. Having one’s children kidnapped/violated/killed is a parent’s worst nightmare. So, to prevent that, we keep our children within sight at all times. I vividly remember when Adam Walsh was kidnapped and killed–I remember my mother’s lecture about safety and strangers. My childhood ended in a lot of ways after that event.

    Furthermore, if I want to, I can look up a list of registered sex offenders and their addresses. I know that there is one who lives about two blocks from my home. Don’t think that that doesn’t cross my mind every time my children go out to play. Every time I hear a car go by, I look out the window to check on them. It’s not fun, and it makes me angry that I don’t feel safe anymore.

    That said, there are things that families can do to promote a love for and a working knowledge of nature in their children. Unfortunately, tv rules the day in many homes.

  2. Margaret says:

    I confess to being the mother who kicked the children out of the house for the whole afternoon!! No regrets! It gave them freedom to roam, fresh air, fun with friends, and it gave me time to do tasks around the house!!

    However, I understand the above comments, as today’s world is different, and it is frightening to hear of kidnappings, killings etc. I understand that mothers today must be extra cautious. I’m not sure what the answer is, – to provide freedom, and protection at the same time. Perhaps supervised play in the backyard, at least for younger children, – making both the kids and the Moms get fresh air and exercise.

    I was interested in the map and stats about Sheffield, as I know this area well. I still remember going with my brother alone in the woods together, – and never thought about danger – a safer world back then.

    One more comment, pray earnestly for God’s protection around your children, knowing He loves and cares for each one of us.

  3. Ray Fowler says:


    I agree that the safety issue is probably one of the biggest issues in parents’ minds. That and the indoor screen – whether TV, computer or video games. It would certainly be nice for our kids to be growing up in the days before Adam Walsh and amber alerts.

  4. Ray Fowler says:


    I am glad you enjoyed the map of Sheffield. I was thinking of you when I first posted this on the blog. Good thoughts on supervised play and especially prayer.

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