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Friday, May 10, 2013

Are our kids missing out?

I've been reading about a study conducted by the Center on Everyday Lives of Families (CLEF) at UCLA on the family life of 32 middle-class families in Southern California.  It's been a fascinating read (maybe because some of the families studied are from the neighborhood I grew up in).  Researchers went into these homes and documented (through interview and videotape) everything the families did for one week.

How can anyone be inside on a day like this?!
One of the findings that I found surprising is how little time families spend outdoors.  Even though most of the homes had comfortable backyards with children's equipment and playthings, pools, lounge chairs, and other recreational equipment, these spaces were rarely used.  The children spent most of their time indoors,  plugged into electronics and the parents were outside even less.  Considering that the study was done in Southern California where the weather is mild all year long, this is especially disturbing.

If this is the trend of most families today, our children are missing out on an important part of childhood...that of being outdoors, enjoying the sunshine, exploring and playing, using their muscles to grow strong and healthy and developing their creativity. 

With Summer approaching, this might be a good time to evaluate how you and your children are spending your leisure time.  Are you inside, even though it's a beautiful day outside or are you showing your children how much fun they can have if they just turn off the electronics and head outdoors to play with the dog, or run through the sprinklers, or shoot a few hoops, or look for bugs.  How about making this the summer you spend more time outside rather than inside!

Note - The study on families can be found in the book, "Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century"  by Jeanne E. Arnold, Anthony P. Graesch, Enzo Ragazzini, and Elinor Ochs.   2012


  1. Thanks for the citation. I want to check that out! I agree about the outdoors, probably because I grew up outdoors myself. A dermatologist once told me I am statistically more likely to die of skin cancer than being hit by a car. So sunscreen+outdoors. :-)

    1. I think you would really enjoy that study. They published their findings in a book called "Life at home in the twenty-first century...32 families open their doors". Author is Jeanne E. Arnold. Published 2012