A recent study in the UK has found that the time children nowadays spend outdoors is only half of what their parents used to spend. The previous generation, which is today’s young parents, are known to play outdoors a lot, and so did the generation before them. Yet now, children are mostly cooped up indoors, playing with smartphones or watching TV.
Some parents may cite safety as the reason they don’t allow their kids to play outside. Considering how we used to often go home with cuts, bruises, and even broken bones back in the day, it’s understandable why new parents want to be overprotective of their children, but is prohibiting them from playing outside the right move?
Importance of Outdoor Play
Studies have shown the numerous positive effects of playing outdoors. This includes being able to understand environmental tendencies, like noticing leaves change color, seeing puddles ripple as they jump over them, and watching the flowers bloom. When children observe these on a regular basis, they gain knowledge and appreciation for nature, and soon enough, they’ll understand weather and seasonal changes, and identify the animals that roam outside.
Playing outdoors improves children’s physical development. When they frequently run around, jump, and skip, their balance improves as well as the overall coordination of their bodies. Tactical and fun playground architecture allows kids to move around as if they’re climbing and reaching over tree branches, putting their limbs to exercise. These movements, along with being exposed to nature, boost their imagination and sense of adventure.
Reasons to Let Kids Play Outside
Despite the mentioned importance of outdoor play, some parents might still find reasons to keep their kids indoors. This might include using technology instead to make their kids learn about nature because various educational TV programs are readily available anyway. There are also books that teach kids how to name animals, bodies of water, and landforms. Toys for vigorous indoor games may also be used instead of letting them go outside to play.
While those can be beneficial as well, letting kids roam outdoors still have more long-lasting impacts. See the following reasons to let your children play outside:
1. Sunlight Exposure
Sunlight is rich in vitamin D, which boosts the immune system and improves bone development. Take them outside every morning and let them bask in the early morning sunshine. Just be sure not to expose your kids under the sunlight too long, because they might get painful sunburns.
Children need to be engaged in physical activity at least 60 minutes daily, and the best way to exercise them is to let them play outdoors. Biking, playing ball, and running, puts all their muscles in motion, boosting their strength.
3. Develop New Skills
Playing outside is more than just exercise and awareness about nature. It also helps kids develop new skills and unleash their intelligence. For one thing, being outdoors allows them to meet other kids, improving their interpersonal skills. Kids playing together can engage in a game where they need to strategize and solve problems, activities that would teach them essential life skills. They can also do role-playing games, which enhance their imagination and creativity.
A parent’s worst nightmare is to see their child being hurt, which inevitably happens in outdoor games. It’s most probably the leading reason some parents prohibit their kids from playing outside, but even so, you shouldn’t fear. Keeping kids sheltered may hinder their self-confidence and bravery from developing.
The bruises, cuts, broken bones, and other injuries your kid may experience from playing outdoors are just a normal part of growing up, and they’ll learn lessons from this. Kids should know failure at an early age, and as long as you guide and teach them, the outdoors will never endanger your children.