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Kids and Nature Survey by The Nature Conservancy


Flower Collage
We all know that I am a huge advocate for getting kids outside. Nature is so important for health, happiness and creativity. Apparently, most parents agree.

The Nature Conservancy, with support from Disney, released the results of the first global survey to capture not only how much time kids spend outside, but also parents’ perspectives on the importance and benefits of time spent in nature.


The Nature Conservancy Kids and Nature Survey


Parents worldwide agree, “Our kids need more nature!”


New Survey Shows Gravity of a Growing, Global Parental Concern: Kids aren’t spending enough time in nature.

“In the U.S., lack of time outdoors is as concerning as bullying, obesity and education;
and seen as an important issue to address.”

When it comes to your kids, what worries you? The list can get long, but my top two are their health and their happiness, and I’m betting it’s the same for you.

When it comes to your kids and nature, what worries you? If you’re like 65% of American parents, it’s the fact that kids aren’t getting enough time outside.

The Nature Conservancy, with support from Disney, recently surveyed parents of children between the ages of three and 18 in the U.S., Brazil, China, France and Hong Kong on the topic of kids and nature. This is the first global survey to capture not only how much time kids spend outside, but also parents’ perspectives on how much importance they place on nature.

As it turns out, parents in the U.S. worry about getting their kids outside as much as they do about bullying, the quality of education and obesity. Globally, this feeling is shared strongly by parents in Brazil and Hong Kong. What’s more, 82% of U.S. parents view spending time in nature as “very important” to their children’s development – second only to reading as a priority. The message is clear; to parents, nature is not just “something to do,” it is a crucial part of growth.

So are parents right to worry about this? The answer – according to numerous studies – is a resounding yes.

The fact is, kids need nature. Studies repeatedly show that time spent outside in nature leads to better health and improvement in the classroom.

Unfortunately, the time kids spend in nature declines as they get older. In the U.S., preschoolers spend 12 hours a week outside, but teens? Less than seven. In other countries except Brazil, the weekly average is far smaller.

So what’s keeping our kids indoors? Parents in all countries cite competing demands on their kids’ time, such as homework, time spent on electronic devices inside, or other after-school activities.

U.S. parents also cite their child’s discomfort with being outdoors (too hot, too buggy, etc.) as the second-biggest obstacle. And teens themselves cite discomfort as the number one reason they aren’t outside more.

This is a problem! If kids don’t connect with nature now, who will care for the environment and support conservation in the future? Direct experience with nature is the most highly cited influence on
conservation values and inspiring environmental stewardship.

So what can we, as parents, do?

First, let’s recognize that we are the primary gatekeepers to nature. According to the survey, children are much more likely to be outside with a parent or guardian than a friend, teacher or extended family member.

Second, get connected. 75% of parents use online resources to learn about nature and the outdoors. Nature Rocks gives parents ideas on where to go and what to do with kids of all ages and in all types of weather. This online and mobile-friendly tool is a resource for parents and kids that offers a wide range of activities for the backyard and beyond, a Nature Finder tool to locate nearby zoos, parks and other natural areas, and a weekly blog and round up of news relevant to kids in nature.

Finally, pledge to get outside! Walk or bike to school. Hike at a nature preserve or a nearby trail, or plan a weekend of camping as a family. Make sure your kids see how much fun you’re having.


Nature Rocks infographic



So what are your thoughts? Do kids need to get outside more? How do you enjoy nature with your kids?





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