Almost Half of All Preschoolers miss Outdoor Play Activity
A study was undertaken to find out the frequency of daily parent supervised outdoor play among the preschoolers in the U.S. and the researchers were amazed to find that almost 50% of the preschoolers were missing out on it. The study has been published in the April 2 online issue of the journal Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.
Researchers from the Seattle Children’s Research Institute and University of Washington, led by Dr. Pooja S. Tandon, analyzed the activities of 8,950 children. The children were participants of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study – Birth Cohort and represented about 4 million children from all over the U.S. The parents of the children were asked to self-report outdoor play frequency of their wards.
It was seen that only 51% of the children went outside to play with either of their parents once a day. While 44% of the mothers supervised outdoor play activity of their children at least once a day, the figure dropped to just 24% in case of fathers. 58% of the children who were not in child care went outside to plat at least once daily. The researchers noted that being a boy, having regular playmates or belonging to a white family, was more likely to be associated with increased frequency of parent supervised outdoor play. Similarly, parents who themselves exercised regularly were more likely to take their children outdoors to play.
The researchers did not find any significant association between frequency of outdoor play and factors like marital status of the mother, television viewing habits of the child, household income or neighborhood safety. Hispanic mothers were the least likely to take their children outside. Researchers have opined that consistent efforts are required to make the parents aware of the advantages of outdoor play for children. In particular, these efforts have to be directed towards parents of nonwhite children and girls. Apart from aiding physical growth, outdoor play is essential for boosting vitamin D levels, and aids mental health, motor development and vision.