OUTDOOR PLAY: Worrying about our children’s safety is impacting on the childhood experiences that older generations took for granted, like going down to the local park until dark.
OUTDOOR PLAY: Worrying about our children’s safety is impacting on the childhood experiences that older generations took for granted, like going down to the local park until dark. Nature Play Queensland

Kids, get off the couch and go play outdoors

THE end of year report card is out and the results are alarming.

It seems our young people are performing badly when it comes to playing outdoors.

When measuring our children's physical and emotional well-being, indicators from a number of surveys suggest that excessive screen use and a lack of activity is impacting their health.

Increased sedentary behaviour is a serious cause for concern and parents are facing a big challenge. How do you get the kids off the couch and away from screens?

There is no doubt that the fear of risk we have for our children's safety is impacting on the childhood experiences that older generations took for granted, like going down to the local park until dark.

Nature Play QLD program manager Hyahno Moser noted that we have come to a point where parents have become paralysed by fear of stranger danger and traffic hazards, giving kids fewer options to roam away from home.

To overcome this he suggests parents communicate with neighbours more and form community links whereby children get together in their neighbourhood and play in groups.

Unplugging kids from technology is becoming an even greater test.

Parents face hurdles in putting limits on screen time because they are finding it difficult to provide alternatives to the social media and gaming addiction young people are drawn to on their devices.

"The recently released Australian Child Health Poll revealed the top concern for parents around the country is how much time their kids are spending on screens," Moser said.

"Even though technology has many benefits, it promotes narcissistic behaviour.

"Children are becoming anxious about missing out if not connected to justify why they are not getting outside."

The benefits for kids who put down their devices and go back outside to play is significant, but how do we encourage it?

The community organisation Nature Play QLD is continuing to provide us with ideas and inspiration to get kids back outside participating in healthy, unstructured, outdoor play.

Nature Play QLD has released a new program, the Nature Play Holiday Play List, a series of 20 playlists featuring the top 10 things to do and places to go, for example 10 things to do in the mud.

The lists, created in collaboration with other organisations concerned about the lack of outdoor play children are involved in, cover everything from backyard challenges to exploring bushland, providing ideas and inspiration to help get kids back outside playing in nature.

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