Cooped up children lose out in health and happiness stakes say UK's worried parents

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Friday 27 May 2016

  • 44% adults worry their children aren’t as happy as they were as a child
  • 96% adults believe they were happier as a child because they spent more time outdoors
  • 72% think social media is affecting children’s ability to interact and engage with others
  • 86% think encouraging kids to spend more times outdoors would help the obesity ‘epidemic’

Children in the UK are falling behind in the happiness stakes because they spend too much time indoors, according to around one in two UK adults (44%), who worry their children or grandchildren aren’t as happy as they were at the same age.

Around a third of adults believe they were much happier as a child themselves, with a startling 96% stating the reason for this being that they spent more time outdoors, interacting with other children rather than sitting in front of a screen, like much of today’s younger generation.

These are the outcomes of a survey - recently conducted by The Camping and Caravanning Club as part of a campaign to “Get Kids Outdoors with Camping” – which researched the amount of time today’s kids spend indoors versus outdoors, and the perceived effects this could be having on their level of mental and physical wellbeing.

The survey revealed that four out of five (88%) adults believe that spending more time outdoors and going on camping trips would help improve children’s social skills and mental health, because it would teach them how to interact, adapt and operate in real life and practical situations. Yet half (50%) admit their children don’t spend enough time outdoors and over two thirds (69%) say their children spend more time indoors than outdoors.

Furthermore, 72% of all adults believe that social media and online gaming have a negative effect on children’s ability to engage and interact in real life situations.

Barnardo’s chief executive Javed Khan said: “Being active and having quality family time are two things that help children and young people thrive. Getting out and about together on an exciting camping adventure or for a walk to the local park is positive mentally and physically. As well as health benefits, spending less time online could reduce the hidden dangers children are exposed to online.”

The survey also revealed that the majority (86%) of adults believe that encouraging children to spend more quality time in the Great British Outdoors and on camping trips could help to increase physical health and fitness and in turn fight against the current, so-called obesity “epidemic”. More than a third agreed that being active in earlier life means the child would be more likely to retain a level of fitness in adult life. Yet recent figures¹ suggest only 21% of children today regularly play outdoors, compared to 71% of their parents.

Launching next week, the “Get Kids Outdoors with Camping” campaign, which coincides with National Camping and Caravanning Week (30 May – 5 June), will see The Camping and Caravanning Club embark on a national roadshow, visiting popular areas of the UK, to demonstrate and reinforce the mental and physical benefits that getting out into the great outdoors can have on adults and children alike.

Camping and Caravanning Club President and TV presenter Julia Bradbury, who kick started the campaign by camping overnight on top of the O2 Arena on 24 May 2016, said: “There’s no question our kids are missing out; apparently the likelihood of a child visiting any green space has halved in a generation². Children are becoming disconnected from the natural environment and that is having a detrimental effect on their development. Outdoor adventures help with physical development and build emotional resilience. Get them off the screens and get them outdoors!”

The Camping and Caravanning Club’s “Get Kids Outdoors with Camping” roadshow will kick off on Monday 30 May at Twycross Zoo, before pitching up at Cardiff Bay on Thursday June 2, taking in Gulliver’s, Milton Keynes, the British Caravanners Club Rally, Evesham and the Canoe Camping Club Rally, Hereford in between. The Roadshow will then make its way up to Blair Drummond Safari Park, Sterling, Scotland to set up camp on Saturday June 4. Adults and children of all ages are invited to join members of The Camping and Caravanning Club to discover all the fun and activities there are to be had by camping in the great outdoors.

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Notes to Editors

Statistics show that one in ten young people in the UK suffer from a diagnosable mental health problem, with the largest portion being those who spend three hours or more per day on social media. (

This latest research from the Club follows two previous pieces – in 2015, the Club worked with Plymouth University and found that children who camp in the great outdoors at least once a year go on to do better at school, as well as being happier and healthier, according to their parents. Visit

And in 2011, in the Club’s Real Richness Campaign, conducted by Liverpool John Moores University, proved those families who camp have closer family relationships. Visit

About The Camping and Caravanning Club

The Camping and Caravanning Club is the world’s oldest and largest Club for all forms of camping. It represents nearly 600,000 campers, caravanners and motorhomers, and operates a network of more than 100 high-quality Club Sites and 1600 smaller Certificated Sites throughout the UK.

The Club's Travel Service sends over 80,000 people a year to its 145 summer partner campsites in 12 different countries, along with its Winter Sun sites and rallies, and it also offers tours to European and Worldwide destinations including Turkey, Greece, Iceland, the USA, Canada, New Zealand and Argentina.

National Camping and Caravanning Week was founded in the Club’s centenary year in 2001, but 2016 is also the 50th anniversary of the Club’s original National Camping Week, which ran from 8-15 May 1966.

Sponsors and supporters of National Camping and Caravanning Week 2016 include caravan and motorhome manufacturers Swift and Bailey, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, car maker Hyundai, glamping brand Ready Camp, tent brands Outwell, Vango and Easy Camp, leading cooking brand Cadac, and component suppliers Thetford and Truma.

In 2013, the Club welcomed TV presenter and outdoor enthusiast Julia Bradbury as Club President.