Nine out of ten mums and dads in the UK say their children play outside less than they did themselves, though most wish they could have more family time together doing nature-based activities.
They have blamed lack of free time and their children’s preference for computer games and television.
The poll examines the changing relationship between modern families and nature.
It found nearly two-thirds of parents questioned said they are too busy to get outside with their offspring as often as they would like.
Almost half complained that technology and screen time were taking over children’s lives and making them less interested in the wider world.
They believe youngsters are spending too much time looking at their phones or playing online games to appreciate what the natural environment has to offer.
According to the research, many of today‘s children have never built a tree swing, made a den, played conkers, flown a kite or camped al-fresco.
They have also missed out on playing pooh sticks, collecting leaves and skimming stones.
The survey was carried out as part of the Let’s Explore campaign by the Woodland Trust environmental charity and clothing brand Joules, which aims to get more people outside all year round.
Contact with nature has been shown to have important benefits for both mental and physical health and well-being.
“It’s shocking to think quintessential childhood experiences like playing conkers and den-building are passing by children in the UK,” said Richard Cooper, Nature Detectives project manager for the Woodland Trust.
“Our native woods are some of the world’s biggest playgrounds – perfect for adventures. The Woodland Trust wants to inspire the next generation, with over 1,200 woods across the country that are free to explore.”
Claire Tait, head of marketing at Joules, added: “Whether it’s going on woodland walks, building a den or playing nostalgic games like pooh sticks, every season offers new opportunities to connect with nature and appreciate our woodlands.
“Our Let’s Explore activity pack, created with the Woodland Trust, will hopefully encourage and inspire families all over the country to put on their coats and wellies, get outside and explore the great outdoors – whatever the weather.”