Health

Survey: Children Spend Less Time Outdoors Than Prison Inmates

1 in 2 kids spends less than an hour outside per day; prisoners in maximum security are guaranteed at least two.

When one reminisces about their childhood, they are usually reminded of the times spent playing late-night street games with neighbors or getting dirty while adventuring outdoors. Youth of today, however, will have very different stories to relay when they’re older.

As it is, 1 in 2 children spend less than an hour outside per day, and this is a big problem. Infatuated with video games and the latest reality show, children and teens are willingly placing themselves under house arrest. Not only is the lack of exercise (and over-eating, which is common when numbing oneself in front of the television) a big factor in childhood obesity, it’s undoubtedly contributing to the increasing prevalence of behavioral and mental disorders.

A recent short film highlights just this, and compares children’s lack of time spent outdoors with that which is guaranteed to inmates in a high security prisons.

In the video (above), a survey of 12,000 parents in 10 countries, who have children aged five to twelve, is referenced. According to the findings, one-third of kids spend under thirty minutes outside daily.

Such low exposure to the outdoors would not be tolerated by inmates who live at the Wabash Valley Correctional Institute, a maximum security facility in Indiana.

Prisoners there describe daily outdoor time as “probably the most important part of my day.” They relay that it’s a welcome opportunity to “take all the frustration and all your problems and just leave them out there. It keeps my mind right, keeps my body strong.”

Treehugger reports that when the inmates were asked how they would respond if their yard time was reduced to just one hour a day, they were horrified. In response to the suggestion, they stated:

“I think that’s going to build more anger. That would be torture.”

It would be “potentially disastrous,” noted one guard.

When the inmates learn that children are given less time outdoors than they are, their responses are of shock and disbelief. Said one man: “Wow, that is really depressing. That really is.”

The survey was conducted by OMO and Persil, two laundry brands which seek to raise awareness about the issue. Realizing how dire the situation is for children, they recently launched a new campaign called “Dirt is Good – Free the Children,” headed by by Sir Ken Robinson and Dr. Stuart Brown.

Credit: Pixabay

Credit: Pixabay

The campaign might sound humorous, but the stark reality is that children need to be outdoors. Time spent outside improves children’s immune systems, ensures they absorb adequate vitamin D from the sun, inspires them to be active, and can also benefit them mentally, as nature is calming.

Parents need to be more active in encouraging their children to get outdoors – perhaps by offering to go on a bike ride with them, play frisbee with the dog, or go visit a lake. In addition, schools and governments would do well to encourage kids to be more active in a fun and playful way.

When kids spend less time outdoors than prison inmates, there’s something wrong. Hopefully, this thought-provoking film will inspire more parents and guardians to set new rules around the house.

In the words of one Wabash security guard, “If you don’t have to throw the kids in the bathtub, they haven’t played hard enough.”

What are your thoughts? Please comment below and share this news!


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