Games for children: are traditional childhood pastimes on the way out?

Are traditional childhood pastimes dying out? Playing tag, building a den, and flying a kite are some of the simple outdoor pleasures that today’s computer-loving generation never enjoyed.

  • More than a third of children (36%) have never played the classic game of tag
  • 54% say it’s hard to balance kids’ love of play with time spent outdoors
  • Survey of 1,000 UK parents with children, aged 5-12, commissioned by Persil

Traditional hobbies may be dying out, as playing tag, building a den and flying a kite are some of the simple outdoor pleasures that today’s generation who loves the outdoors computer has never appreciated.

A total of 54% of UK parents say they struggle to balance their children’s love of online games with time spent outdoors.

The research also reveals that it’s been three months since the average British child got muddy while playing outside.

The survey also found that 76% of modern kids, ages 5-12, have never done a rope swing and 72% have never played stuck in mud.

Of the 1,000 parents surveyed, 71% have never participated in a traditional summer game of rounders and 69% have never participated in a scavenger hunt.

Traditional childhood pastimes such as playing tag, building a den and flying a kite could be disappearing with modern children preferring online games to hanging out with friends, a study has found (stock image )

UK parents have revealed a list of long-standing games and activities young people in the 21st century have no idea about, with more than a third (36%) having never played the classic game of chat and 87 % who have never built a treehouse (stock image)

UK parents have revealed a list of long-standing games and activities young people in the 21st century have no idea about, with more than a third (36%) having never played the classic game of chat and 87 % who have never built a treehouse (stock image)

And almost four in ten parents (37%) say their children find play much more exciting than the outdoors (stock image)

And almost four in ten parents (37%) say their children find play much more exciting than the outdoors (stock image)

Games for children that modern children have never experienced by percentage of children who have never played them

  • Grandma’s steps 91%
  • Build a tree house 87%
  • Leapfrog 81%
  • British Bulldogs 79%
  • Rope swing 76%
  • Stuck in the mud 72%
  • Play poohsticks 72%
  • Curves 71%
  • Make mud pies 70%
  • Going rock pooling 70%
  • Treasure hunt 69%
  • Play conkers 66%
  • Campsite 66%
  • Build a den in the woods 65%
  • Pick up sticks 65%
  • Fly a kite 60%
  • Looking for worms in the garden 59%
  • Pig in the middle 56%
  • Climb trees 45%
  • Score 36%
  • Take bike rides 33%

Other games that have dropped include Grandmother’s Footsteps (also known as Statuses), 91%, Leapfrog (where you jump over others), 81%, and British Bulldogs (a game where people try to prevent you from getting to the other side), 79%.

Conker games are not played by 79%, and Piggy in the Middle (where the third person in the middle tries to catch a ball) is not played by 56%.

And 37% say their children find play much more exciting than the outdoors.

In fact, 57% of parents surveyed admit that their children have no real connection to nature or the great outdoors.

And a fifth of parents, 22%, admit they fear their child’s lack of connection to nature will mean they will struggle to understand how important it is to protect the environment.

The survey of 1,000 UK-based parents with children aged 5-12 was commissioned by Persil as part of its Dirt Is Good campaign.

Tati Lindenberg, Unilever’s Vice President of Marketing, Dirt Is Good, said: “Getting dirty outside is so important to children’s development and their relationship with nature.

“We believe a child needs to connect with the natural world in order to care for it.

“We were shocked to find that some of these beloved games, which were so essential for generations past, are practically on the verge of extinction.

“We wanted to engage with the gaming community and rally support to encourage kids to get back outside and play.

“No one should be able to resist a muddy game of tag.”

The study also found that nine in ten adults, 93 percent, say they had more fresh air when they were the same age as their children and another four in ten, 42 percent, that they were more in tune with nature than their children are.

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