It’s time to re-wild our kids with more wild time

Looking for creepy-crawlies in a wildlife-friendly garden © John Millar

Looking for creepy-crawlies in a wildlife-friendly garden

Latest update 24.10.2013 22:20

The UK’s biggest ever campaign to reconnect children with nature and outdoor play is launched by the newly formed Wild Network, as it encourages the nation’s parents to swap some of their kids’ screen time for wild time.

Swapping thirty minutes of screen time for an extra half an hour of wild time every day would decrease children’s time in front of screens by 10%. This could help increase levels of physical activity, alertness and ultimately improve their well-being.

This new campaign is being launched on the back of an important and compelling new documentary film, ‘Project Wild Thing’, which is being shown at over 50 cinemas across the UK from the 25 October.

Three years in the making, ‘Project Wild Thing’ takes a funny and moving look at one of the most complex issues of the age – the increasingly fragile link between children and nature.

The 'Marketing Director for Nature'

In a bid to get his daughter and son off the sofa and outdoors, filmmaker and father David Bond appoints himself as the Marketing Director for Nature. He wants his brand – nature – to stand out from the crowd of brands competing for their attention.

David works with branding and outdoor experts to develop and launch a campaign to get children outdoors and into nature - the ultimate, free, wonder-product.

Filmmaker and star of Project Wild Thing, David Bond, said: 'I wanted to understand why my children’s childhood is so different from mine, whether this matters and if it does, what I can do about it.

'The reasons why kids, whether they live in cities or the countryside, have become disconnected from nature and the outdoors are complex.

’Project Wild Thing isn’t some misty-eyed nostalgia for the past; we need to make more space for wild time in children’s daily routine, freeing this generation of kids to have the sort of experiences that many of us took for granted.

'It’s all about finding wildness on your doorstep and discovering the sights, sounds and smells of nature, whether in a back garden, local park or green space at the end of the road.

'Spending time outdoors is hugely beneficial to children and young people. Research clearly shows that it improves their health, reduces stress and boosts wellbeing.'

The Wild Network

The Wild Network, which is made up of more than 370 organisations, large and small, is leading a campaign calling for more wild time for every child, every day. Members of the network include the National Trust, RSPB, Play England and the NHS Sustainable Development Unit.

Andy Simpson, Chair of the Wild Network, said: 'The tragic truth is that kids have lost touch with nature and the outdoors in just one generation.

'Time spent outdoors is down, roaming ranges have fallen drastically, activity levels are declining and the ability to identify common species has been lost.

'New research published last week illustrates the scale of the challenge with only one in five (21%) of children aged eight to twelve years old having a connection with nature.

'With many more parents becoming concerned about the dominance of screen time in their children’s lives, and growing scientific evidence that a decline in active time is bad news for the health and happiness of our children, we all need to become Marketing Directors for Nature.

'An extra thirty minutes of wild time every day for all under 12-year olds in the UK would be the equivalent of just three months of their childhood spent outdoors.

'We want parents to see what this magical wonder-product does for their kids’ development, independence and creativity, by giving wild time a go.'

Suggestions of how to get more wild time playing outdoors in nature include everything from collecting conkers, camping or snail racing to playing leaf snap and counting autumn colour on trees. The new ‘Wild Time’ app is available to show how technology can help give time-pressed families a bucket list of ideas to help get their kids outdoors.

Starting in January 2014 the Wild Network will publish, over the course of the next year, a series of short, focused policy asks to tackle the most serious barriers between children and nature. These will put children, nature and outdoor play firmly on the agenda of the political parties in the run up to the 2015 General Election.

The discussion about swapping screen time for wild time will continue on twitter via the feed @wearewildthing and using the hashtag #wildtime.