The most shocking thing we’ve heard today: many parents believe children shouldn’t play outside alone until they are between 13 and 15 years old. In Inhabitots, Jennifer Chait points out that some parents say children should never play outside alone.
Chait cites a Mayo Clinic study that found 75 percent of parents fear their children will be kidnapped. Even though crime rates, especially rates of dangerous crime, have been steadily declining for years.
Despite parents’ fears, the outdoors aren’t dangerous at all. In fact, here are four reasons why it might be more dangerous to not let your kids outside alone.
- Kids need freedom. When children play outside on their own, it encourages them to make their own decisions, be independent, and have fun their way. They will build relationships with their friends. You need to teach them about potential dangers and how to deal with them, of course, but playing outside alone is their chance to learn to navigate the world around them.
- Fond childhood memories. You had fun playing and exploring the outdoors. Don’t you want the same for your kids?
- Trapped inside! Without a chance to get outside, children may be more likely to suffer from depression, to be aggressive, to be less creative, and to suffer from obesity. And the list goes on.
- What about stranger danger? It’s a shame that fear of abduction has caused a generation of children to drastically lose out on unsupervised outdoor play. Based on Chait’s research, on an annual basis about 115 children are kidnapped by strangers in the States, with 50 of those children never recovered. It’s difficult to imagine how terrible that would be. But at the same time, we shouldn’t let fear dictate whether we let our children play outdoors. To keep it in perspective, riding in vehicles, playing in the pool or with toys, and access to household products all pose far greater risk to your child than abduction. So let her play outside – just go with her at first and teach her basic safety rules.