Why Kids Need Time Outdoors
According to numerous surveys, children spending half as much time outdoors as they did 20 years ago, prompting the term “Nature Deficit Disorder” by some experts. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that sixty minutes of daily unstructured free play is essential to children’s physical and mental health; however, many kids would prefer to stay indoors. Playing outdoors is not only fun, but it has substantial mental and physical health benefits that parents can encourage, especially during the warm summer months.
Promotes Physical Health
Most kids don’t go outside and sit around. Being outdoors means walking down trails, running in the yard, and jumping over streams. It could be playing soccer in the park or riding your bike to a friend’s house. Unfortunately, decreased time outside has contributed to a dramatic increase in the rate of childhood obesity in recent years.
Encourages Social Interactions and Builds Confidence
The manner in that kids play outside has a lot less structure than most other types of indoor play. Not only do they have free space to run around and be active, but they must interact with peers, learn to take turns, strengthen their communication, and decide how they are going to use their free time.
Being outdoors encourages creativity and imagination. By having unstructured play, kids are open to interacting with their surroundings in a more meaningful way. Gone are the flashing toys and over-stimulating movies. Instead, children have leaves and grass to content with. This gives them the opportunity to think freely and create their own experiences.
Increases Attention Span
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is estimated 6.4 million children between the ages of 4 and 17 have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Numerous studies all show that these symptoms can be reduced in green, outdoor settings. Even children without diagnosed ADHD find nature relaxing and calming.
Nature may provide one of the most important ways to learn about taking care of something. By interacting with it, children learn that living things need to be cared for. By watering a plant to respecting the space of an animal habitat, valuable lessons about our planet can be taught that will stay with the child into adulthood.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology published a study that found that children who spend time outside are at a reduced risk of developing nearsightedness. Researchers discovered that the chances of developing nearsightedness dropped by two percent for each hour spent outdoors per week.
While indoor activities can sometimes seem easier, kids need to get outside. Children that spend time outdoors show signs of being happier, smarter, more focused, and less stressed. So, turn off the TV and get out to nature.