The study, published in February 2017, demonstrates that children who play outside are more likely to cherish and protect nature when they become young adults. This may seem ever more difficult to do as kids get drawn into sitting on the sofa in front of the TV or playing on an iPad, forbes.com wrote.
However, as the Harvard University professor Edward O. Wilson once proposed, humans are instinctively drawn to nature and a natural environment. Why then, are American children on average spending 30 minutes in unstructured outdoor play compared to over 7 hours a day sitting in front of a digital screen?
While the trend in America is clearly tilted toward indoor digital play time, there are a vast number of benefits in motivating your children to play outdoors. Many of the benefits have been touched upon thousands of times, including building confidence, promoting creativity, learning responsibility, varied stimulation, exercise, reducing stress, etc.
However, parents may not realize that motivating your children to go outside to play is a great way to instill a passion for the outdoors and a sense to protect the environment in which they live. The study found that 87 percent of those surveyed who played outside when they were young still held a love of nature into adulthood. In addition, 84 percent of those young adults said taking care of the natural environment is a priority to them.
Hence, young adults who played outdoors as children are more likely to have positive views of nature and take action to protect it.
The study found no significant differences in respondents coming from different social classes. However, there were differences in rural versus urban respondents. The study found that people living in urban settings stated they love nature more often than those that live in rural settings. This is interesting, as one would assume rural children play outdoors more often than urban children.
This assumption appears to be true based on a study of urban versus rural daytime activities. In the study, they found that rural children spend on average 0.7 hours per day more outdoors than urban children. Why then are urban young adults more likely to say they love nature and the outdoors? Unfortunately, there's no clear-cut answer with many confounding variables.
Despite the differences in urban versus rural opinions on nature, it appears that in both situations the more a child spends outdoors the more likely they will love and protect the environment into adulthood. Just one more reason why it's vitally important to push your children to put down their digital device and play outdoors.