The internet, playstations, smartphones keep children indoors most of the time. ‘Stranger danger’ also keeps children inside the home, as parents no longer can allow their children to play outside unsupervised, and as most parents are working, it’s tough for children to play outdoors. But whatever the difficulties, you should definitely let your children spend a lot of time in nature. It seems that children, who love playing outdoors, are also the ones who love nature in adulthood. They are also more protective about the environment. Here’s a closer look at the study:
Playing outdoors protects the environment
British Columbia University researchers conducted a study involving 50 students who were between 18-25. Researchers asked the participants about their love for nature and the time they spent playing outdoors when they were children. Out of the 50 students, 100% of the female students stated their love for nature or that they ‘somewhat loved’ the outdoors, and 87% of the male students also said the same.
According to the study, 87% of the students who played outdoors as children, revealed a continuous love for nature as adolescents. 84% students felt that the environment should be protected. The researchers concluded that the time the young adults spent outside in childhood, shaped the way they felt about the environment.
The study demonstrated that children who spend time playing outdoors are far more likely to protect and cherish nature when they grow up.
Positive experiences of childhood influences attitude as adults
Scientists are saying that the positive experiences we had in the midst of nature, can influence our attitude towards nature to be positive as adults. Those who participated in Boy Scouts and Girl Guides programmes developed environmental awareness and were more proactive in participating in activities which were beneficial for the environment.
This implies that we should encourage our children to spend time playing outdoors. Outdoor school activities also help to raise children who are conscious about their surroundings, and who love nature. This love for nature / environment should be encouraged and nurtured, as it will lead to the creation of a generation of adults who would live an environment friendly lifestyle.
Teaching children about the role of the environment is important
Other child experts also are of the opinion that outdoor play should be simultaneously supported by providing children knowledge about the environment, and how each of them could protect the environment. This knowledge can be passed down by parents, as well as by teachers.
Simple actions such as switching off unnecessary lights, recycling, using alternative transportation and so on can be taught to children, who will then grow up with a sense of personal responsibility towards the environment. Children should be taught to reflect on their actions and to be mindful in everything they do, in a way that they become and remain concerned about nature conservation.
In order to reduce pollution and even slow down climate change, we have to educate children to practice eco-friendliness right from childhood.
Motivate your children to play outdoors
Children today are more engrossed in TV and gameplay, thus staying indoors for hours together. Many studies have pointed out other benefits of playing outside the house. By doing that children become more confident, creative, and they learn responsibility. They also benefit from the physical exercise which lowers stress and makes them happier. Therefore, parents should motivate children to go outside and play. If they have no playmates, then parents have to play with their children, in order to get them to go outside. For those who are fortunate enough to live in a neighborhood which has children of the same age, should encourage and praise their children (especially for not watching TV or chatting on social media) for playing outside. You should encourage your children to go on hikes or treks, and to go camping. Direct contact with nature and participating in activities which give them pleasure will help children associate with nature positively and they can continue this attitude as adults.
With the planet facing an environmental crisis, we have to raise a generation which is aware that their choices impact the environment. Their love for nature would help them to make informed choices, such as supporting the organic food movement, reducing plastic pollution by avoiding plastic and so on.