The number of children in the Netherlands who play outside every day has slumped from 20% to 14% since 2013, according to research by children’s play charity Jantje Beton.
Three in 10 children rarely or never go outside to play, compared with two in 10 five years ago, the research shows.
‘This research shows the enormous changes between the generations,’ spokeswoman Pauline van der Loo told broadcaster NOS.
While 70% of the current generation of children’s grandparents played more outside than at home, today just 10% of Dutch children are more likely to be outside than play indoors, Van der Loo said.
One in three children told the researchers they would like to play outside more often but blamed boring playgrounds, hobbies and school for not having enough time. The school playground, woods and gardens are their favourite places to play.
‘Children today have more choice but we forget that they say themselves that playing outside makes them happy,’ Van der Loo said. ‘It is also healthy and good for their social skills.’
At the end of last year, ophthalmic opticians warned that Dutch children have an increased risk of becoming short-sighted because they spend more time on computer screens and less time playing outdoors.
Research by the Erasmus medical centre in Rotterdam also showed that 2.4% of six-year-olds are short sighted. They were also more likely to have a shortage of vitamin D, to be overweight and not to play outside.