Approximately 17% of Dutch children do not play more than twice as much outside as they did four years ago, according to Jantje Beton, a charity campaigning for a better playground.

At the same time, more children are now playing outside every day. 1 in 5 compared to 1 in 6 in 2018. On average, children play outdoors 9.5 hours a week, but 40% play less than an hour a day.

Dave Ensberg-Kleijkers, director of Jantje Beton, says online games and TikTok are becoming more and more popular, especially among older children. In addition, he said, children are living an increasingly busy life.

“Children are busy. After school, they often have homework classes or have to go to sports and music clubs of all kinds,” he said. “They need to run continuously and have a packed diary.”

Nonetheless, outdoor recreation is important for establishing a healthy approach to exercise, says Professor Eric Shelder of VU University.

“Playing outside is not only healthy for children today, but also has a positive impact on their future development,” he said. “Exercise is no longer a normal part of Children’s Day, which is alarming.

“If we don’t make sure our kids play outside now, we’ll suffer from mental and physical problems that result from immobility for at least an hour a day for the entire generation.”

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