Virtually all young children would prefer to play outside but almost one in ten spend less than an hour outside on a Saturday or Sunday, a recent survey by TP Toys reveals.
An even higher number - 42% - appear to spend less than an hour playing outdoors on a school weekday.
Despite this, two thirds of parents - 68% - would in fact prefer their children to be playing outside and one in five - 22% - would like them to be in the park having fun.
However children certainly know the benefits of outdoor play - almost half of children surveyed - 44% - admitted liking ‘running around freely’ best of all whilst almost one in five - 16% - claimed to enjoy being outdoors to get ‘messy and muddy’. Nearly one in five - 18% like ‘making a noise’ in the fresh air and almost a quarter - 22% - find it ‘more exciting than being indoors’.
Despite the 44% of children who said they prefer playing in the garden to playing inside with jigsaws, play dough, painting and drawing, a staggering 21% - one in five - said they'd rather be at the computer than outdoors.
The survey of 2,000 adults and 1,500 children under seven reveals we are rearing a generation of screen kids – on a weekday almost half spend one to two hours in front of a screen and 15% spend two to three hours.
At the weekend 40% of children spend one to hours in front of either a TV or computer screen, including hand-held devices.
On a typical school holiday day, more than a third of kids – 38% spend one to two hours in front of a screen whilst 30% spend two to three hours when they ought to be outside having fun. 30% spend two to three hours pressing buttons and more than one in ten - 11% - spend three to four hours looking at moving images. As many as 6% of children spend more than 4 hours on a computer or TV during their time spent off school.
Parents themselves acknowledge the problem - almost half - 47% - admit that their children don't go out as much as they would like and almost 4% say they have no park nearby to take them to. A worrying percentage of parents also admitted that they don't feel safe taking their child to the park.
The most popular item of garden play furniture was reported to be a slide – owned by almost two thirds - 69%. Over half - 54% - own a swing set. More than half - 58% have a trampoline and a quarter - 24% - have a climbing frame.
A quarter - 25% - admit they haven't got round to getting play equipment for the garden and more than half - 56% say the garden is too small. Almost one in five - 18% believe outdoor equipment to be just too expensive to buy.
A spokesman for TP Toys said: "The good old days of spending your formative years enjoying playing outside seem to be well and truly over. Worryingly we are rearing a generation of screen kids who are more likely to be playing a computer game than hide and seek. It is vital that children spend time outside so they can benefit from fresh air, exercise and the interaction that gives them confidence and helps them to learn important social skills. There is so much that they can learn and enjoy outside that parents really need to ensure that their children spend as much time having fun outside as they did when they were growing up."
In line with these alarming survey results, TP have created a competition to frame the fresh face of 2009 and is searching for a certain little somebody to front their 2009 brochure! The competition requires that parents capture TP’s mission - ‘freedom to play’ in one simple shot and upload it on to the TP website www.tptoys.com The image of the child must be taken outdoors and demonstrate their interpretation of having fun – an incentive for parents to get their kids out and about in the outdoor air! To accompany the picture, TP has also asked parents to explain in no more than 100 words why they think it important for children to play outside. The competition is aimed at children between 18 months and 7 years old, who really should be outdoors having some playtime fun!