Some 17% of Dutch children never play outside, more than double the total four years ago, according to charity Jantje Beton which campaigns for better play facilities.
At the same time, more children now play outside every day – one in five compared with one in six in 2018. On average children play outdoors for 9.5 hours a week, but 40% do so for less than one hour a day.
Jantje Beton director Dave Ensberg-Kleijkers says online games and TikTok are becoming increasingly popular, particularly among older children. In addition, children are leading increasingly busy lives, he said.
‘Children are busy. After school they often have homework classes or have to go to all sorts of sports and music clubs,’ he said. ‘They have to perform continually and have a packed diary.’
Nevertheless, outdoor recreation is important for establishing a healthy approach to exercise, said VU University professor Erik Scherder.
‘Playing outside is not only healthy for children now, but has a positive impact on their future development,’ he said. ‘Exercise is no longer a normal part of a child’s day and that is alarming.
‘If we don’t make sure children play outside now, then we will saddle entire generations with the mental and physical problems which stem from not moving for at least an hour a day.’
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