Turn off the TV and have an adventure
We commissioned a survey and asked 2,000 parents what their children do for fun, and whether they have ever participated in outdoor adventure. And spoke to psychologist, lecturer and author, Elie Godsi, to find out what he thought.
Some children may ask, ‘what even is a pooh stick?!’ In fact, technology-loving families admit the main source of quality time with their children comes from watching TV (68%), going to the cinema (35%) and playing computer games (24%).
In response to our findings, psychologist, Elie Godsi, said: ‘British children are spending more and more time in front of screens and as much as 20 hours a week on line. There is a growing body of evidence that indicates that children's physical, emotional and social development is hampered by the increasing restrictions on their ability to explore the world around them and to process their discoveries on their own without adult supervision.’
He went on to say that, ‘Children who do not learn to take risks become adults who do not take risks, to the detriment of society as a whole. There is a worrying and increasing trend for parents to try to supervise and monitor their children’s every movement: so-called ‘helicopter’ parenting. While this is clearly appropriate for younger children, as they grow older such intense supervision inhibits their development. Mobile phones can become an unhealthy psychological umbilical cord between parents and their children; a balance must be struck between a child’s safety and their autonomy’.
We believe our survey highlights the importance of children exploring independently, and connecting with the natural environment.
Matt Healey, Head of Learning and Adventure at Kingswood, says: ‘Exploring the great outdoors is a fundamental part of a child’s development. Parents often underestimate how important it is just to get outside. It’s more important than ever for parents to continue to encourage their child to try new things – rather than just watching the television or constantly surfing social media.’
So we've come up with six ways to combat 'helicopter parenting' and in turn encourage outdoor adventure...
- ‘Mindfulness’ – being completely in the moment is something children excel at. Encourage it without distractions such as ‘taking a selfie’, which pulls your child away from that moment.
- Let it go. If it’s a sunny day, why not enjoy it without restrictions.
- Be brave. Don’t stop a child who wants to climb a tree, walk along a wall, and follow the wrong path in the park. Always saying ‘be careful’, ‘you’ll fall’ will hold them back. It’s good to encourage them to develop good instincts and listen to their bodies (e.g. that butterfly feeling in your stomach when you’re probably doing something that’s a bit hard).
- Be brave for yourself too. Just because you haven’t camped and can’t imagine not having a hot shower doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy it if you try it.
- Don’t timetable everything. Leave some space for spontaneity.
- Leave technology at home. When you go out as a family leave mobile devices switched off.