CONVERSATION TOPIC: Did you play outside as a kid? Are kids today staying inside too much? Discuss below…

Outdoor physical activity is critical for learning and development in young children. And yet, nearly half of three- to five-year-olds are not taken outside by a parent or caregiver.

That’s according to research presented in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

“We have so many high-quality indoor distractions these days, including video games, high definition television sets and computers that it’s easy to get immersed in things without ever having to move your body,” said Dr. Steven Rice, President of the American Academy of Pediatrics New Jersey Chapter. “But whether it’s catching a ball, kicking a ball, throwing a ball or playing tag or hide and go seek or some other fun game, it’s important for children to get out there and learn how to be active.”

“Not only is it important for the development of fine motor skills and coordination, but activity prevents childhood obesity and it helps children learn how to interact in social situations,” said Rice. “Children should be outside for at least one hour every day.”

In the study, it was discovered that mothers took their children out to play more often than fathers did. Working outside the home was often a barrier for children to play outdoors, but some parents who worked from home also did not take their children out.

“I think some parents are anxious and nervous about what’s happening in the world, so they don’t want to let their children play outside unsupervised which is fine. But, it’s still important to find that time to get your children outside. It may be a question of whether you can share time with your friends and neighbors. Maybe one day a week you can do it and other days, friends can be outside keeping an eye on the children,” said Rice. “You don’t need three parents to supervise three children. You can split the time.”

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The study also found that mothers who exercised were more likely to take their kids outdoors, as opposed to those who were not as physically active. “I think it’s important for all parents to make it a priority to get their children moving,” said Rice.