Do you have the nagging suspicion that today’s children are more often overweight, less likely to be active, more depressed or more likely to have ADHD than in the past? Do you wonder if this might be due to the tendency for today’s youth to spend more time indoors?
Well, you are right and plenty of research confirms it!
Children spend less time outdoors
Children today spend less time playing outdoors than any previous generation. 82 percent of mothers with children between the ages of 3 and 12 cited crime and safety concerns as one of the primary reasons they do not allow their children to play outdoors.
Childhood discretionary time has declined
Children’s free play and discretionary time declined more than seven hours a week from 1981 to 1997 and an additional two hours from 1997 to 2003, totaling nine hours less a week of time over a 25-year period in which children can choose to participate in unstructured activities.
Sources: Population Studies Center, 2000.
Decreased visitation to national parks
Visitation data show that on a per capita basis, Americans are visiting our parks 20% less than they were in the 1980s and earlier. In fact, prior to 1987 per capita visits to our US National Parks had continuously increased. That trend has reversed and now shows a gradual and continuous decline.
Decreased participation in hunting and fishing
Similar to the per capita decrease in US National Parks visitation, hunting and fishing has also seen a general downturn since the mid 1980s. Measured by the number of hunting and fishing licenses purchased, the decline is about 1% to 3% per year.
Childhood play is more restricted
Today’s children have a more restricted range in which they can play freely, have fewer playmates who are less diverse, and are more home-centered than any previous generation.
Sources: Children’s Geographies, 2005.
Additional trends show childhood depression is on the rise. In adolescents, research shows the prevalence of “major depressive episodes” (MDEs) increased from 8.7% in 2005 to 11.3% in 2014.
Sources: American Association of Pediatrics, 2016.
Several recent studies have shown that the incidence of ADHD (“attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder”) has been steadily increasing. The relative increase has been shown to be 30% or more over the past decade.
What’s the solution?
We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature–trees, flowers, grass–grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.