(Above) Children pond dipping at Lorton Meadows in Weymouth © Katharine Davies
For many of us, spending time outside when we were young was a big part of our childhoods. However new technology and increased ‘screen’ time has led to concerns that the new generation could be missing out.
Research shows that the average child watches 17 hours of TV a week, spends 20 hours a week online and the average 11-15 year old spends around 7.5 hours a day looking at screens*. Dorset Wildlife Trust and the Wildlife Trusts nationally believe that it is important to strike a balance between the two, and to make ‘Every Child Wild’.
We don't want children to miss out
DWT Communications Officer, Sally Welbourn, said, “What we don’t want is children to miss out on gaining a love for wildlife and experiencing outdoor adventures at a young age. Screen technology is wonderful, entertaining and makes our lives easier, but the concern is that this will start to replace the time children spend outside. The statistics we are seeing for screen time is already high, and could only get higher with the development of new technologies, so Dorset Wildlife Trust is trying to raise awareness of this, and help inspire families to strike a balance between the two.”
"Showing kids that nature and wildlife is cool and exiciting is my big mission!" - Steve Backshall
Wildlife expert and TV presenter Steve Backshall spoke to us about this topic earlier this year, and explains why he thinks children should spend time outside: “Educating young people has been a big part of my career and since I got started I think a fear of the outdoors, which is incredibly common, can hold people back and make outdoor experiences less pleasurable and fun. I think we should do everything we can to beat those fears and phobias, and this starts young. Showing kids that being involved with the outdoors, nature and wildlife is cool and exciting is my big mission!”
So, what can we do?
Dorset Wildlife Trust has teamed up with publishers ‘From You to Me’ to create a unique journal for young people aged 8 - 16 to record the activities and adventures they have outside. Writing, drawing, sticking, doodling or colouring, anything goes in this journal, which also has some practical ideas of things children can do outside in the garden. It’s easy to do, and allows children to be creative whilst exploring the great outdoors. To get your copy (£9.99), visit our shop page.
Every Child Wild campaign
The Wildlife Trusts have also launched a national campaign, called 'Every Child Wild' with the aim to raise awareness about the negative impact missing out on 'wild time' could have on young people. Find out more about the campaign here.
Come and explore nature at Kingcombe Meadows
DWT visitor centres are also hot spots for children’s activities throughout the year. The Kingcombe Centre in west Dorset (DT4 0EQ) has lots of fun things lined up for children. The Centre’s Engagement Officer, Christine Endecott says, “The children who come to our Kingcombe Kids club love the opportunity to be allowed to get wet or muddy whilst learning something about wildlife and getting out of the house for a while. We also do school visits and I think it’s important that every child gets a chance to leave the classroom for a day and explore nature.”
Kingcombe Kids club events are aimed at children of a range of ages from 3 to 13. To find out more, visit the Kingcombe website or phone 01300 320684.
Discover more with Lorton and Chesil
Over in Weymouth, Lorton Meadows and the Chesil Beach Centre are a fantastic place for kids (and adults!) to explore. Sam Dallimore, a Community Conservation Officer for DWT says children spending time outside is a vital part of their development. “It has been proven by various studies that people benefit from being outside, in nature, no matter what their age. A little wildlife interaction helps maintain mental health and wellbeing! Children are naturally curious and adventurous about the world, so providing activities that encourage this behaviour in a safe way, with learning outcomes (for the school visits we do) and a sense of fun and exploration is an obvious way to support their development. Also, encouraging children to value, respect and care for the natural environment will hopefully mean that as adults they do the same.”
Visit our events page...
Wildlife events are happening all over Dorset all year round for all the family, from adventures on the coast, to exploring heathland, woodland and wildflower meadows. Visit our events page for more information about Chesil, Lorton and other events from around the Trust, and make 2016 the year your family goes wild!