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 are now playing outside every day – one in five compared to one in six in 2018. On average, children play outside for 9.5 hours a week, but 40% do so for less than an hour per day.
Jantje Beton director Dave Ensberg-Kleijkers says online games and TikTok are becoming increasingly popular, especially among older children. In addition, children are leading increasingly busy lives, he said.
“The children are busy. After school they often have homework lessons or have to go to all sorts of sports and music clubs,” he said. “They need to perform consistently and have a busy schedule.”
Nonetheless, 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 get kids playing outside now, we will be imposing on entire generations the mental and physical problems that come with not moving for at least an hour a day.”
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