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Remember this as kids?! Research reveals kids these days are less likely to build cubbies and climb trees than their parents at the same age.
Remember this as kids?! Research reveals kids these days are less likely to build cubbies and climb trees than their parents at the same age. Creatas

Kids today versus 30 years ago... what are the differences?

ONLY half of children aged five to 12 spend more than an hour a day having 'real play' time; things like climbing a tree, imaginary games or getting messy in the garden.

That's a third less than their parents spent at the same age.

The research, commissioned by Omo as part of its Dirt is Good campaign, also found only one in four children today said their favourite activity was climbing a tree, compared to 50% of parents when they were kids.

The findings, which raise debate about the loss of real play in children's day-to-day, also found:

  • Seven in 10 parents wished their children played more traditional games like they did when they were a child such as climbing a tree, getting muddy or building a cubby house.
  • Eight in 10 wished their child had the freedom to enjoy real and outdoor play like they did when they were growing up.
  • One in three parents admitted to 'cotton-wooling' their child for fear of them getting hurt or dirty.
  • One in three kids today have never climbed a tree. 
  • 87% of parents engaged in real play as a child in comparison to a mere 6% dedicated to extra-curricular activities.
  • Almost seven in 10 kids want to play freely more.
  • Six in 10 kids want more playtime.
Children today engage in 40% less 'real play' than their parents did at the same age.
Children today engage in 40% less 'real play' than their parents did at the same age.

In response to these findings and the desire for more real play on parents' minds, Omo partnered with leading clinical psychologist Suzy Green to champion a mission to bring back the magic of real play to Aussie children.

Dr Green said the mission was clear.

"As parents, we need to work together to put real play firmly back on the family agenda, as without it, there will be a significant impact on their social and emotional development," she said.

"Academic research has proven that free, outdoor, unstructured play is crucial for normal social, emotional and psychological development in children.

"It enables children to develop critical life skills such as independence, confidence, resilience and personal responsibility, as well as developing a sense of judgment in order to take measured risks."

Dr Green said real play moments were what memories were made of.

 "It's heart-wrenching to imagine a child growing up not knowing what real play is; to not know what it's like to get messy, explore their natural environment and to be imaginative and spontaneous," she said.

"We as parents look back so fondly and with great nostalgia about our play time as a child.

"So we have to celebrate these memories to not only ensure we don't lose some of the wonderful and magical playtime traditions we enjoyed but to also help our children unlock their full potential."

What kind of real play activities do you do with your family? 

Kids today are less likely to climb trees than when their parents were kids.
Kids today are less likely to climb trees than when their parents were kids.