A recent study has revealed that 93% of parents, of children aged 2-5 years old, believe toddlers of this age group are spending too much time in front of electronic devices.Being honest I would say we are not far behind here in Ireland and with us adults one can only imagine..
The data, by Kiddi Caru, also shows that 60% of this group have given their toddlers a tablet, with over half (57%) being just 3 years old and under.
When asked what their child uses the devices for, TV shows came out on top with 79% of toddlers using screens to watch their favourite shows. 59% use the devices to play games, the same number who use them for educational apps, and 50% for watching films.
More worryingly though, 29% of UK parents admitted they do not have screen time limits for their toddlers.
Losing Touch With Nature
When parents were questioned about the amount of outdoor time their child gets, weather permitting, 31% said they get 3 hours or less weekly outdoor time.
This is surprisingly little considering the same percentage (31%) get 2-3 hours of screen time per day, with 11% getting over 4 hours daily. If spread out evenly over the week this works out to be only 25 minutes per day.
According to the NHS physical activity guidelines for under 5s, toddlers should be physically active for at least 3 hours per day. And although this includes indoor play, it can be assumed that, for some, indoor time is being monopolised by screens.
When given a list of outdoor activities it was revealed 44% of toddlers have never held a bug, 36% haven’t collected sticks, 35% have yet to dig in mud and 30% haven’t fed ducks, all arguably priceless childhood experiences that introduce little ones to nature and wildlife.
These figures could suggest the next generation are at risk of losing touch with nature and wildlife, which is concerning in a time where conservation and being environmentally conscious is crucial.
Benefits of Outdoor Play
Outdoor play not only introduces young children to nature, it also has further developmental and health benefits, such as exposure to vitamin D and helping develop gross and fine motor skills.
Fiona Blackwell, Quality Care and Education Director at Kiddi Caru, said “Being outdoors supports children’s wellbeing. Often children are calmer and happier and more likely to engage in the learning process. Being outdoors gives the opportunity to ‘burn off’ excess energy, which in turn aids appetite and helps children to sleep better.
“Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones and children do not benefit just during the summer months but in the winter during day light hours, meaning there is every reason to get outdoors in whatever weather. After all there is no such thing as bad weather just inappropriate clothing.”
Kiddi Caru Day Nurseries and Preschools are a child care group with nurseries based in the midlands and south of England. They currently have over 40 nurseries that offer exceptional care and support to babies and children from newborn to 5-years-old.
They have used the their findings to create a post that contains the data as well as giving suggestions of outdoor activities suitable for this age group, and activity sheets to go with them. You can find it here: https://www.kiddicaru.com/news/general-news/get-outside-and-play-10th-may-2019/