Here’s the thing. I read this week about children spending less time outdoors than prisoners. Can that be true? Given that I first saw it when someone shared a Daily Mail article online I could imagine that the truth has been massaged, but even so, children have to go outside in playgrounds at school don’t they? The study from the Play In Balance report by Persil’s Dirt Is Good campaign said that 18% of children never play outside at any point. “One in ten mothers and fathers have never been on an outdoor adventure with their child”. Is that more to do with the motivation of the parents than anything particularly preventing them from going outside and getting involved, or is it to do with our work life balances being so out of kilter that there is literally no daylight left in which to do things with our offspring? The kids are still playing, but on computers, or indoors in less adventurous circumstances. This has led to a response from many people about how, in their “day” this was not the case, we were thrown out of the front door at 8am with a cheese sandwich in our pocket and not let back in until teatime. The big question, I guess is would this have a negative effect on children long term, or is it just us oldsters freaking out about how we think things should be versus how they actually are? The people who participated in this report probably didn’t remember the TV programme “Why Don’t You?” which was specifically aimed at me and my little brothers to inspire us to stop watching the TV and go and make spaceships out of toilet rolls. Things haven’t changed THAT much, in my opinion. You have to encourage children to do things, they need their mums and dads to be passionate about hobbies, these things are contagious in my experience.
The fact is that life, and (some) times, have changed. Although I have been known to send my daughter out with the dog on a mission (yesterday she went to our village chemist on her own to get some sunscreen as the weather is improving and she has to slap on the block every day) I send her out with a phone, an itinerary and a clear understanding of when she is expected back home. That is very different to the way I grew up when we did disappear for hours on end, fall in rivers, come home without shoes, end up on the wrong side of the motorway, and other tales of disaster which perhaps one day you will know about. I wouldn’t send my daughter outside to play randomly, she would be going to see a friend, whose parents would also know about the plan, or she would be going to an prearranged date at the stables, or with my Dad to go sailing. Apart from lacking spontaneity what’s wrong with that? It’s another example of us taking advantage of the things which Mallorca has on offer, but it’s done with a deliberate focus to keep her off of You Tube but not out of my hair. What do you think? http://www.mallorcamatters.com