pexels-photo-290403The days of children spending their time outdoors climbing trees or playing tag appear to have, at least, temporarily ended. Children between the ages of six and 16 currently spend more time playing video games than they do playing outside. According to a British survey, today’s youth prefer gaming, watching TV, surfing the web and listening to music over playing outside. Some of them were more willing to do homework or complete their chores than to go outside and get some fresh air.

Children’s refusals to go outside have many parents concerned. More than two thirds worry that their children spend too much time indoors, and almost half the parents surveyed said that they have to force their children to leave the house. Parents have also stated that they spent much more time outside when they were the same age as their children. Today, more than half of the children surveyed had never climbed a tree or built some sort of fort, and a mere third of young respondents were even remotely interested in visiting a local park or garden.

The lack of time outdoors has its own problems, including vitamin D deficiency, but more concerning is that children cannot stop thinking about their tablets, smartphones or computers. This suggests that there is an entire generation that will be growing up with an addiction to their devices and may never even know that something is wrong. Addiction to any kind of electronic device, of course, carries a host of problems. Eye damage from staring at small screens, neck and back issues that arise from hunching over the device and, of course, a myriad of sleep issues that range from altered circadian rhythms to depressed melatonin production.

Children seem to be starting out with electronic devices at earlier and earlier ages. This, however, is not necessarily in the child’s best interest. It may be best to go back to doing things the old fashioned way and, instead of handing children a tablet to entertain them, sending them outside to play.

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