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Tuesday, March 31, 2015 - 12:15

Simple things like making a daisy chain, climbing trees, flying a kite and playing pooh sticks in decline

A generation of children are growing up without experiencing simple pleasures such as knocking conkers off trees, flying kites or even making daisy chains, a study has revealed.
Researchers found a whole range of traditional nature activities could soon become a thing of the past as children spend their spare time playing computer games, watching TV or just hanging out with friends instead.

Playing in open spaces and woodland, planting their own seeds and climbing trees are also among the activities a large number of today’s youngsters have never tried. 
It emerged the average child in the South West spends just five hours a week playing outside – more than half the 11 hours a week their parents did.
Peter Stewart, Executive Director of the Eden Project, part of Eco Attractions Group, which commissioned the research, said: “For many people, these activities made up a huge chunk of our childhood, and left us with the memories and experience of our natural world to go with it.

“But today’s children seem to be struggling to experience a large number of them for themselves.

“Nowadays, children have much more to keep them amused – computers, a host of TV channels and smart phones – something older generations didn’t have. As a result, youngsters are missing out on getting dirty in the mud and puddles or simply spending time in the fresh air.

“EAG attractions offer safe environments for families to explore and learn about nature, many of them in or very close to cities, so they are an easy way for children to get access to and find out more about the natural world.”

The study, of 2,000 parents, revealed 43 per cent of children in the South West haven’t had a picnic outside of their own back garden, just under half have never been on a bike ride with their family and only a third have knocked conkers from a tree.

Even everyday activities are in decline with only 38 per cent saying they have had a go at flying a kite, under half haven’t climbed a tree and 62 per cent claim to have never made a daisy chain.

But while 82 per cent of parents would like their children to spend more time outside than they currently do, 60 per cent say their children would rather stay at home either playing computer games, watching TV alone or with friends or even just reading a book.

As a result, 63 per cent of parents in the South West worry about whether their children are experiencing enough of the traditional childhood activities.

However 80 per cent of parents admitted they probably need to make more effort, or find more time, to play with their children outdoors while worryingly, two out of ten parents say they don’t live near a green space or somewhere with outdoor activities for their children.

Peter Stewart continued: “The Easter holidays are just around the corner and we encourage all parents to try and get their kids closer to nature.

“There is a wealth of activities out there and kids get so much from experiencing the natural world.  As well as the pure joy of nature, plenty of research has shown that kids exposed to nature perform better at school, so it really is worthwhile making the effort.

“Just get the family out of the house and enjoying what nature has to offer!”

This Easter, the Eden Project is playing host to a grand, site-wide eggstravaganza. Visitors can scramble, climb and compete in the Great Eden Egg Hunt, complete with an inflatable obstacle course and egg-themed fairground games. All activities are included in the Eden admission price and take place until Sunday April 12.