Children, and adults, now seem to be perfectly content spending hours in front of a television, computer or video game. Most kids never learn how to play Kick the Can, never hear their mothers complain about grass stains, and have forgotten how it feels to run through the sprinkler during summer vacation. In this era of technology, understand why outdoor play is that crucial for children.
1) Builds Social Skills
When kids play outdoors, they are almost never alone, kids playing in the street seem to flock to each other. Children learn to work in teams, how to make decisions and be more tolerant of others. Most kids don’t pay attention to how much another kid makes, where they went to school or if they plan on opening a 401k plan, kids just want to play. When kids do play outdoors alone, they learn to be more independent, use their imagination and entertain themselves.
2) Combats Childhood Obesity
Children who play outdoors are exercising without even knowing it. Any kid will tell you that they would rather play tag or dodge ball for hours, than do jumping jacks or a timed mile run. Jumping rope, throwing water balloons, or just playing in the sand all burn more calories than sitting in front of the TV. The exposure to sunlight also combats depression and the desire to overeat. When a child comes in from a hard day of play, they are more apt to crave juices, fruit or even cold tap water, more than a can of soda whereas sitting in front of the computer, they’ll probably grab the closest thing on hand.
3) Less Stress And Restlessness
Sometimes kids don’t realize they need to play outside. They could easily pass the entire day playing video games, but at night they can’t seem to sleep. Parents also need time without kids around, even if they are only 10 feet away on the front porch. When kids play outdoors, or even just sit outdoors, the fresh air wears them out faster and parents are less stressed when they have quiet time for themselves and a calmer child indoors.
Some cities are just not conducive to outdoor play due to the weather or the location. Many schools, recreation centers, and dance studios offer open gym periods. Even walking laps in a shopping mall can be a nice substitute every once in a while. If a child doesn’t seem to like the idea of playing alone or playing outside, parents should get out there and play with them! They can show their kids that they honestly were a child at one point in their life and can still play like one too.