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Britain’s new generation of ‘home hermits’

31st July 2013 Print

Adventurous outdoor play is in decline, with the British weather, laziness and a lack of adventure to blame, according to new research from Persil small & mighty.

Today almost two thirds (59%) of mums admit they encourage their children to spend time with them indoors in front of the TV (82%), rather than playing outside with their friends.  In spite of the current glorious weather, mums cite the weather (65%), laziness (15%), and a lack of adventure (9%) as factors most impacting the lack of outdoor play.

The worrying trend is resulting in a generation of youngsters missing out on key life skills to build coping mechanisms for the future, according to the 2013 White Paper on ‘Emotional Resilience among Children’, developed by Persil small & mighty in conjunction with Child Development Specialist Dr Barbie Clarke.

While mums prefer their children to stay indoors, the research reveals children themselves want to get out and experience the great outdoors with their friends.  Children are spending a mere three hours per week playing with their friends - time mainly spent being adventurous and getting dirty outside. 64% choose to spend their play time in the garden, 37% play sport, 10% climb trees and 6% camp outdoors with friends.

Less adventurous childhoods

The study also reveals  a concerning new movement towards less adventurous childhoods, resulting in children not developing the emotional resilience they need to cope with the ups and downs of life. Steep drops in participation of ‘adventure activities’ were coupled by mums’ own resistance to let their children participate in many of the activities they themselves enjoyed:

57% of mums’ took part in Brownies, Cubs and Scouts as children. Just 16% of today’s children take part in the same pursuits

Over a quarter (28%) of mums admitted they would be unlikely to let their children climb a tree and 35% would be concerned if their children did this

Nearly half (43%) would be unlikely to let their children go on a cycle ride with friends or camp in the garden (37%)

Persil One Mighty Night

In response, Persil is this week launching ‘One Mighty Night’ to encourage mums to cut the apron strings and let their children experience an adventure by camping outside in their back gardens (or even indoors in their front room) for a night during the summer holidays.

Enver Solomon from the National Children's Bureau said: “It is a dilemma that all parents face wanting their children to grow up strong, confident and independent, but also wanting to keep them safe from harm. Starting from the very early days of infant hood, children both want and need to push their boundaries in order to learn about themselves and the world around them. Children would never learn to walk, climb stairs or ride a bike unless they were strongly motivated to respond to challenges. It is the critical life skills learnt through play that help children cope with the risks and challenges that they will face throughout life."

The Five Camping C’s have been developed by Persil to form the stepping stones children need to be able to deal with life’s challenges, with camping the ideal activity to work through each one:

1. Communication: Camping is a brilliant way for children to bond with friends and even make some new ones! It’s a great way to learn to communicate and share experiences.

2. Collaboration: Camping is a team event. It’s great practice for learning how to collaborate.

3. Content: Camping is one of the simple pleasures in life. We call enjoying things as they happen “being content” and the more “content” children are the more fun they will have.

4. Creativity: The great thing about camping is that no two trips are the same. Children can camp in the garden, in the living room or even in their bedroom. It’s all about being creative.

5. Confidence: New experiences can be tough but remember it’s not just your child who might be a bit scared. If you notice others are not enjoying themselves, encourage your child to take the brave role in the group. The braver the group the more fun they will all have together!

Information for parents on how to take part in One Mighty Night is available on, including a downloadable Mighty Manual with practical safety tips, advice from the expert panel, and a range of camping activities.  Mums can also upload a picture of their kids ‘Being Mighty’ to to win a bespoke camping kit.

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