Scots children reject the great outdoors with only 1 in 6 going on country walks

Fewer children are going on country walks. Picture: Photo by David Bagnall/Shutterstock
Fewer children are going on country walks. Picture: Photo by David Bagnall/Shutterstock
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One in six children living in Scotland have never been for a walk in the countryside, a study reveals.

Research featuring 1,500 parents with children under the age of 11, also highlights that 45 per cent have never climbed a tree in a forest, 55 per cent have never made a den outside and 37 per cent have never swam in the sea.

In terms of wildlife, 21 per cent of children are unable to tell the difference between a wasp and a bee.

Just over one in twenty (6 per cent) were aware caterpillars turn into butterflies.

4 per cent of children did not know where leaves on the ground came from.

According to the poll, 60 per cent of children are scared of certain types of animal such as dogs or insects.

Despite being encouraged to play outside, 27 per cent of children have a tantrum or start crying if they are asked to do so. 35 per cent of children said they hated going outside if it was raining or cold.

It is estimated the average child playing outside an hour a day – with 80 per cent of parents saying their children spend far less time playing outside than they did at the same age.

Parents said that playing outside felt less dangerous when they were young.

Remembering back to their own childhoods, 64 per cent of parents said that there was less distraction from technology (59 per cent) and that it was normal for youngsters to roam free in those days (66 per cent).

Benjamin Thompson-Star, brand director at Petits Filous, the food company which commissioned the research, said : “It’s clear to see that children today are far more detached from their natural landscape.

“Playing outdoors and getting hands on with Mother Nature seems to be less common nowadays, even though it was a central part of many parents’ childhoods.

“We are on a mission to champion the benefits of outdoor play because we know that playing free outdoors boosts child development and promotes healthy lifestyles.

Mr Thompson-Star added that he hoped the company’s new children’s activity book, Have You Seen My Imagination?, in support of the Woodland Trust would inspire children to fire their imagination through outdoor play.

On a positive note, the study found that some children were benefitting from the outdoors.

41 per cent of children in Scotland have ridden a horse, 25 per cent have gone fishing and 23 per cent have climbed to the top of a mountain.

30 per cent said they had seen a hedgehog in the wild, 8 per cent had seen a badger and 29 per cent could correctly identify a sparrow.