We live in a day and age when children are spending more time indoors than ever before. What with television, computers, games consoles and tablets to keep them occupied, it can often feel easier to just put them in front of these devices and “screens” rather than insisting that they go out and play. Before all these devices, though, that’s what children used to do.
The interesting thing is that although your children may seem happy, healthy and content when they have these enhancements in their life, there are several important benefits to playing outside on outdoor playground equipment. What are those benefits?
Children may argue that when they play video games, they can explore the world or other fantasy realms. While this may be true, there is a lot of exploration they can get the benefit from when playing outside. For instance, outdoor toys and equipment usually come with a bit of risk attached to it that doesn’t really exist with indoor toys. Slides, swings and climbing frames can force your children, in a positive and fun way, to push their boundaries. Not only that, but it shows them how to assess risks and how to determine if they are afraid of things for real reasons or just assumptions.
One thing that outdoor play does, more than anything else, encourages creativity. When they are using devices and “screens” to play, even if the worlds presented are fantastical and engaging, they are kept within the confinements and constraints of whatever the creators have devised for the toys. However, when they are playing outside, they have the chance to broaden and use their imaginations by making use of the environment and objects and equipment around them to create their own worlds and adventures.
Establishes Good Social Skills
Although you may think that your children are safer indoors, the four walls and crowded spaces make it harder for them to unwind and be more sociable. When they play outside, they have the opportunity to invite others to play with them or to play with others. Outdoor equipment like see-saws and swings require interaction that they might not necessarily need if they were playing indoors.
It also teaches them in a fun way to learn that they have to co-operate and aren’t always going to get their own way. They may need to compromise.
Although this is a fairly obvious benefit, it is still one that is worth highlighting. We could write a whole series of posts all about the health benefits of playing outdoors over playing indoors. As there is a wider available space to play within at an outdoor playground, it encourages children to be more active than they would be stuck in their room or elsewhere at home. This in turn helps them to have better fitness levels, strong bones and muscles and means that they are working off a healthy number of calories and energy. Not only that but playing outside means playing in the sunshine, which means exposure to Vitamin D.