Toddlers Getting Little Daily Parent-Supervised Outdoor Play

Girls and nonwhite preschoolers especially less likely to have active outdoor play

FRIDAY, April 6 (HealthDay News) -- About half of all preschool-aged children do not have even one parent-supervised outdoor playtime per day, according to research published online April 2 in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Pooja S. Tandon, M.D., M.P.H., of the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study involving a sample of 8,950 parents of preschool-aged children to characterize the frequency of daily parent-supervised outdoor play.

In this sample, 44 percent of mothers and 24 percent of fathers reported that they took their preschool-aged children outside to play at least once daily. Overall, 51 percent of children reportedly went outside to play each day with either parent, and 58 percent of those not in child care went outside daily. Girls were 15 percent less likely to play outside than boys. Children with three or more playmates were twice as likely to play outside daily; children whose mothers worked fulltime were 30 percent less likely to play outside; and children of parents who exercised four or more times per week were 50 percent more likely to play outside daily. Finally, children of Asian, black, or Hispanic mothers were 20 to 49 percent less likely to play outside daily, despite the fact that the vast majority of parent participants perceived their neighborhood to be safe.

"Our results highlight the considerable room for improvement in parent-supervised outdoor play opportunities for preschool-aged children, which could have numerous benefits for young children's physical health and development. In particular, efforts are needed to increase active outdoor play in children who are girls and nonwhite," the authors write.

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