The Great Indoors: Today’s Screen-Hungry Kids Have Little Interest In Being Outside

LONDON — The Snapchat generation doesn’t seem to love the outdoors — at least not as much as doing other things. The average child between 6 and 16 years old spends only an hour a day outside, playing video games over twice as long, a new study finds.

Researchers at Decathlon, a sports retailer in the United Kingdom, recently surveyed more than 2,000 British parents and children, hoping to learn more about the recreational attitudes of society’s youngest generation. The researchers’ findings shed light on a number of phenomena.

Child laying on couch with phone
The average child between 6 and 16 years old spends only an hour a day outside, playing video games over twice as long, a new study finds.

Today’s children and teens, the survey found, prefer a whole host of activities over playing in the mud. These activities include gaming, watching TV, surfing the web, and listening to music. Believe it or not, some adolescents even preferred doing homework (10 percent) and completing chores (three percent) over enjoying the wilderness.

“With games such as ‘Fortnite’ taking over the lives of many young children, they would prefer to stay indoors than kick a football around with friends or wander through the woods,” says Chris Allen, a department manager at Decathlon, in a statement.

More shockers: four in ten British adolescents have never gone camping, nearly half have never built a den or fort, and more than half have never climbed a tree. Many who had tried these rites of passage couldn’t stop thinking about their devices.

“Today’s generation of children have more things than ever before to encourage them to stay inside – and it seems these gadgets are keeping them from enjoying the great outdoors,” says Allen. “We want to encourage parents and their children to head outside and enjoy a real-life family adventure!”

Parents, for their part, seem concerned. Over two-thirds worry that their children spend too little time outdoors, and nearly four in ten struggle so much to get their kids to leave the house that they actually have to force them to do so.

Three-fifths of parents blamed games like Fortnite for their child’s indoor tendencies, while three-fourths said they spent more time outside when they were the same age.

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It’s not for a lack of effort: only a third of kids said they were even open to visiting a local park or garden.

Attitudes shift with maturity, so the jury is still out on whether kids will one day change their tune. Still, the early returns aren’t pretty.

Decathlon hired British market research firm OnePoll to conduct its survey earlier this year.

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