First there was television. Then came video games, cable t.v. and computers… in short order. Now Netflix and Smart Phones have been added to the mix. Most of us in the developed world know that this has led to children spending less and less time outdoors over the years. Exploring, hiking, and just throwing a ball up in the air or off a roof to experience the simple joy of catching it again on its return have largely gone the way of the dinosaur. Fishing and hunting have been replaced in far too many cases by fishing and hunting…video games. Or hunting for “to-die-for shoes” at the mall.
Now even our reality is becoming virtual. Soon our intelligence will be artificial. We have been disconnecting from the earth for years now. And, in many cases, from our families. Soon we will be utterly incapable of distinguishing what is real from what is virtual and artificial. Not long thereafter we may simply be... utterly incapable. What will be the consequences? No one knows for certain, but they can’t be good.
A new survey, funded by U.K. laundry detergent maker Persil, found that 1 in 3 kids in the United Kingdom spend less time outside than inmates in maximum security prisons*. The poll questioned more than 12,000 parents of children between the ages of 5 and 12 years old, from 10 different countries. Researchers found that, in the U.K., almost a third of these kids play outside for 30 minutes or less on an average day. Incredibly, the poll revealed that 1 in 5 essentially don’t venture outdoors at all. How sad is that?
Parents, insist your kids put down their iPhones (and their Pop-Tarts). Throw open the doors and get some fresh air. Let the sun shine in. Go outside. Hike, fish, explore, hunt, play ball. Do something real. Free, active and independent bodies lead to free, active and independent minds.
I’m going outside for a walk. Think I’ll bring a ball and glove.
*(The United Nations' standard minimum guidelines for prisoners require "at least one hour of suitable exercise in open air daily.")