31 May 2012

I have been to a big city today, it is always such a shock compared to the small village I live in. City life is not for me. It reminded me though, of something I heard on the radio recently.

The declining amount of time that children spend outside is a topic often under discussion.  It should be an integral part of a child's life, but for so many it rarely is. I have heard several reasons suggested for this, stranger danger, our aversion to risk, not wanting them to get dirty are a few, the media coverage of certain events in the last few years, has I am sure, also played a part. Television has gone from a few hours in the day to 24 hours a day, with hundreds of channels, during the last 30 years. We often hear of reports into the ever increasing number of hours of television watched by children. There is also gaming consoles, computers and the Internet which can keep children inside. Once a child is outside what are they actually going to do? If they are spending most of their time inside watching t.v. or on the internet, a activity which gives little opportunity for imagination to grow, if they then go to pay outside where there are massive opportunities for the imaginative child, they will not find it easy to know what to do.

One reason, for this decline, I heard suggested recently is that of cars. Again, there has been a massive increase in car ownership in the last 30 years. Roads that were once safe for children to play are now full of cars. They have priority over pedestrians in most places, they travel very fast even when there is a speed limit. The pavement, for some, has not been a place of safety.  Perhaps we should be looking more closely at the planning in towns and cities to encourage more priority for people over the car, particularly in housing areas. I am not suggesting that this is the only reason, this is a complex issue that has many, many layers to it. But I do feel that it is vital that we as a society address it sooner rather than later, when it may be a harder issue to solve.

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