Go climb a tree. What's a tree?

I am probably not the first parent to shout at her children “Go and climb a tree or something, why don’t you?!”

Ahem. Our parents didn’t have to urge us to play outside. They had to force us to come IN when it was dark because we were roaming around the neighbourhood, playing cricket and rollerskating, riding bikes and walking up to the shops.

In just one generation however, we seem to have gone from outdoor kids to indoor kids. And surely, this can’t be a good thing.

A few months ago, Planet Ark commissioned an independent study to investigate childhood interaction with nature and how this interaction is changing. The research was conducted by Pollinate, a specialist communications research company, and was sponsored by Toyota Australia.

The findings were sobering to see even if you kind of knew it already. Here are the most interesting bits:

The bubble-wrap generation.

The research shows that there has been a dramatic shift in childhood activity from outdoor play to indoor activity in the space of one generation.

  • 73% of respondents played outdoors more often than indoors when they were young compared to only 13% of their children
  • 72% of respondents played outside every day as kids compared to only 35% of their children
  • As well as playing outdoors less often, the research shows that the nature of children’s outdoor activity in Australia is also changing.

73% of respondents said they played on the street when they were young compared to only 24% of their kids

[The full report is available at And here are some practical ideas for getting kids outside]

Did you play outside as a kid? Doing what? If you have kids or know kids, do you see a difference in the way they play? If you’re a parent, how much time do your kids play outside and do you encourage them to do so or do you prefer them to be inside?