Enjoy a Sight Sanctuary Summer: New research from the Global Myopia Awareness Coalition (GMAC) has revealed that over half (52 percent) of today’s generation play outside less than their parents did when they were young.
A study of 2,000 parents of children aged four to 12 highlighted the true extent to which today’s younger generations are not experiencing enough of the great outdoors, putting their long-term eye health at risk.
The findings revealed a host of nostalgic outdoor activities could die out within a generation – as today’s children have never experienced them. Four in ten (45 percent) modern kids had never buried a time capsule, made a dam (42 percent), built a tree house (41 percent) or been fishing (41 percent).
41 percent have never made a bow and arrow, swam in a lake (41 percent), played on a tree swing (40 percent), or been crabbing (36 percent). While a third had never helped build a campfire (33 percent), bug hotel (33 percent) or played pooh sticks (30 percent).
While more than quarter (26 percent) of parents say their children have never ridden a skateboard and 29 percent have never camped under the stars.
Despite this, 42 percent of mums and dad believe that playing outside sparks their kid’s imagination.
This summer, GMAC is challenging parents to create “Sight Sanctuaries” with their children in a bid to educate them that near work activities – screen time, digital devices and reading – and less time spent outside are factors than can increase the progression of myopia in children. They have produced, with Optometrist Hamza Mussa, a Sight Sanctuary Guide to give parents ideas on a range of nostalgic outdoor activities, so they can create a place for children to take a break from screens and near work to rest their eyes, get outside, and ignite their creativity. What’s more, the guide includes the signs parents should look out for to see if their children may have myopia.
TV Presenter and Singer Kimberley Walsh said: “Raising awareness of myopia is so important to me as I am shortsighted and am a mother of young children. I’m also conscious that it’s something that may affect my children, so I’m constantly on the look-out for any signs that they may have myopia.
“The holidays make juggling work and family life tough and it’s so easy for kids to spend all day glued to screens and digital devices. Whilst I am shortsighted, I didn’t realise that the risk of developing myopia is 3.5 times greater when kids spend 7 hours or more on screens and this goes up dramatically if one or more parents are shortsighted. Plus, whilst I would much prefer my kids to have their head in a book, doing “near work” activities like reading and colouring can also contribute to the progression of myopia. That’s why I’m supporting the Global Myopia Awareness Coalition’s Sight Sanctuary campaign and encouraging families to get outside for at least 2 hours a day, and give their eyes a break. One simple way to do this is by introducing nostalgic outdoor activities and helping your kids to build their own “Sight Sanctuary” in the garden, on a balcony or even at the park.
“Summer holidays are also the perfect time to book an eye test for your kids, and make sure their vision and eyes are healthy before they hit the new school year. It’s something that’s now at the top of my back-to-school to-do list!”
Lisa McAlister, Chairman of the Global Myopia Awareness Coalition, an organisation dedicated to driving awareness of myopia said: “It is so important that we are supporting the future of children’s long-term eye health – myopia affects one in six children in the UK and is one of the biggest threats to eye health.
We know that certain activities can contribute to the progression of myopia, such as less time outdoors, and we know that in the school summer holidays, children may spend a lot of their days off watching TV or playing on devices. To support the future of children’s long-term eye health, we want to encourage parents to take part and build their very own Sight Sanctuary this summer —a place to take a break from screens and near work, get outside, and ignite their creativity. We also want to encourage regular eye tests, and if your child is myopic there are now options beyond traditional glasses and contact lenses that provide a treatment to slow the worsening/ progression of their myopia.”
The research also revealed that over half of the parents polled (54 percent) admitted they would like their children to spend less time watching TV and playing with their tablets and games consoles. And nearly a third of UK parents (31 percent) said they believe their children are addicted to screens.
Worryingly, the research also showed 45 percent of parents were unaware that increased screen time can have a negative impact on their children’s eye health, and over half (51 percent) were unaware that spending time outdoors can delay short-sightedness.
The research also showed that more than three quarters (76 percent) of UK parents would like to spend more time in the great outdoors with their family but feel unable to because their children prefer to spend their time in front of electronic devices (24 percent) or because they feel they don’t have time (23 percent).
Shockingly, a quarter (23 percent) of parents have never taken their child for an eye test, with seven in 10 (71 percent) admitting that they don’t know what myopia is.
Optometrist Hamza Mussa, who is working with GMAC, said: “Myopia is another term for short-sightedness, and it is on the rise in children. It has become a global health issue, so regular eye examinations (not just a vision screening) with an Optometrist, are important to identify any problems, especially at an early age. It is an irreversible disease and can be a barrier to a child’s ability to do their best and fulfil their potential, so it is crucial that children have annual eye exams.”
TOP 20 THINGS MODERN KIDS HAVE NEVER DONE, THAT THEIR PARENTS LOVED TO DO AS CHILDREN:
- Bury a time capsule – 45%
- Build a dam – 42%
- Build a tree house – 41%
- Go fishing – 41%
- Make a bow and arrow – 41%
- Swim in a lake – 41%
- Play on a tree swing – 40%
- Go crabbing – 36%
- Build a bug hotel – 33%
- Help build a campfire – 33%
- Play pooh sticks – 30%
- Camp under the stars – 29%
- Build a woodland den – 28%
- Played conkers – 26%
- Ride a skateboard – 26%
- Bird watched – 25%
- Go on a scavenger hunt – 21%
- Flown a kite – 20%
- Climbed a tree – 17%
- Rolled down hills – 13%
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