I have worked with children for over 40 years and in this time, I have seen many changes. The most concerning change has been the decline in outdoor play and the engagement with the natural world. This has been overtaken by digital technology. Many children are not engaging with the natural world and therefore, have no interest. I have witnessed at first hand children who become agitated at the absence of WiFi signal, so they are unable to play on their IPad. They become bored and moody and at a total loss.
The saddest scene I have witnessed was a mother and son (about 8 years old) sitting in a restaurant. They had ordered the meal and were waiting for it to arrive. Both the mother and her son were totally absorbed in their own digital worlds. The mother was looking at her phone while, her son played on his IPad. They sat opposite each other and did not speak or make eye contact. Twenty minutes later the food arrived. The waitress stood for 20 seconds before, either the mother or the son noticed that, she was there. They took the food and started to eat but, as they did this they continued in their separate digital worlds. This carried on for one hour.
I have observed a large group of nursery children sitting on the floor, many fidgeting and losing concentration. Suddenly, the TV is switched on and every child stares at the TV, oblivious of their surroundings. It is like a magic switch which, puts them into a trance. Many children spend hours watching the TV, playing with their tablets or mobile phones. Unfortunately, what impact is this lifestyle having on their social skills, physical development and their mental health? Technology has a place in the lives of children but, it should be balanced with other forms of play, especially out doors in the natural world.
“The greatest gift you can give to a child is, the lifelong love of the natural world. The only cost to you is time”
“The Great Outdoors”
The benefits of outdoor play ;
Exercise – learning- adventure- creativity- well being- social skills- independence – the engagement with the Natural World.
A Perfect Childhood
Open spaces natural and wild
Great adventures for every child
Wonderful woods with trees to climb
Dandelion clocks to tell the time
Streams to dam and fish to catch
Nests to find and eggs to hatch
Ponds to dip and frogs to find
Great enjoyment to fill our mind
Mud to ooze and make a pie
A spider to watch as he eats a fly
Wiggling worms to scare your Mum
The great outdoors is such good fun
Daisy chains and flowers to press
A princess robe from Grans’ old dress
Imagined pirates and robbers galore
Sailing a ship to a distant shore
These are the days when we grow and thrive
A perfect childhood,
WE FEEL SO ALIVE!