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It’s a reality we don’t want to hear, but we’re all at least a little bit complicit in making it so. Technology is taking over the world, and with its many benefits it’s not difficult to see why, but is what we have gained in convenience worth what we have lost elsewhere?

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Through a campaign titled Dirt Is Good, UK based laundry detergent marketer Persil is letting us know just how dismal things have gotten. A survey of 12,000 parents worldwide revealed a number of shocking results, including, but not limited to:

  • 74% of youngsters are not allowed to spend an hour outdoors
  • 62% of parents believe their children have less opportunities to be outdoors than they did
  • 77% of parents admitted that their children often refuse to play games not featuring some form of technology
  • 75% report that their children prefer to play sports on a screen than the actual sport itself
  • 54% could not identify an oak tree, while 80% could identify Justin Bieber

Each of these statistics, sadly, puts another proverbial nail in the coffin of outdoor play. Yet I think we would be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t recognize how important such active time is for our mental and physical health, our development as children, and our overall well-being.

Not only does time outdoors help to keep a child active, but it also connects them with nature, gets them away from these proven to be harmful devices, and stimulates their imagination. I personally cannot even imagine my childhood without the vital role that outdoor time played in my development. Whether it be my excitement for the recess bell to ring to get onto that next period of ball hockey with my friends, or the baseball tournament that had me outdoors for virtually an entire weekend, outdoor play has shaped my life and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

While I did eventually get sucked into the lure of the technological world, I’m incredibly grateful for my first-hand experience with the outdoors prior to that, and strongly believe that these early experiences fostered in me a lifelong appreciation for the outdoors and for movement in general. With many children now being connected to an iPad before a field of grass, I fear that this appreciation will never be developed, and the results of this survey would seem to support that.

To further drive their point home, Persil hired director Toby Dye of RSA Films to put together a documentary style video from inside the walls of a prison — what many assume would be the most restrictive form of existence. In the short video, prisoners first reveal how important their daily 2 hours outdoors is to them, and are then hit with the staggering statistic that most children experience less than they do… by choice.

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The Good News: We Can All Do Something About This!

For once, being a part of the solution is actually quite easy. Whether you are a parent or not, the prescription is simple: make more time DAILY to be outdoors. Don’t believe me? Let this comical ad do the convincing for me.

There are so many easy ways to incorporate outdoor time into your regular life:

  • Take a daily walk after a meal with a loved one
  • Implement family hike day weekly, where you regularly explore new trails
  • Take your children to a park — yes, they do still exist!
  • Rather than just watching sports, actively play them
  • Implement a ‘Tech Box’ where all technology is put and not taken out until after spending time with each other is done
  • Incorporate learning into your time outdoors, even if you need to learn it online before heading out

There are so many ways for us to help combat this saddening reality. Let this article be the reminder you need to do your part and reconnect us all to the outdoor world rather than the closest WiFi signal.


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