Kids Are Spending Less Time Outside Than Prison Inmates

March 4, 2017

When prisoners are spending more time outdoors than children, it's time to start making changes.

prisoners spend more time outside than kids today
Photo credit: Iain Masterton / Alamy

According to a new study from the United Kingdom, 74% of children spent less than 60 minutes playing outside each day. A fifth of the children did not play outside at all on an average day, the poll found.

"The truth is we are enclosing our children," Mark Sears, an advocate for 'wild play,' told The Guardian. "We are stifling their ability to be free, to be at their best as children and it is having significant impacts."

A different survey of 12,000 parents in 10 countries, who have children aged 5 to 12, found that one-third of kids spend under 30 minutes outside each day.

"Parents see the value of outdoor play and still it doesn't happen," Sears added. He says the fear of strangers, traffic or accidents deterred parents from allowing children to play outside, as did lack of time due to busy school and work lives.

The short film "Free the Kids - Dirt is Good" reveals how important it is for inmates to have their outdoor time on a daily basis and how surprised they are to learn that kids get even less.

The inmates, who live at the Wabash Valley Correctional Institute, a maximum security facility in Indiana, describe daily outdoors time as "probably the most important part of my day." It's an 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."

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."

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