Plea for more family time from 1 in 5 kids

One in five 8-11 year olds want to spend more time with their parents and more than a third of parents said they want to spend more free time with their kids, new research for the National Trust has found.

While watching television and DVDs tops the YouGov poll [1] as the most common way for parents and children to spend time together in the UK [2] 26 per cent of children aged 8-11 years old and nearly half (49 per cent) of all parents surveyed said they would like to spend more time together just going for a walk. 

To help families get out on an Autumn walk, users of the website Mumsnet have provided some top tips on making sure that parents have got everything ready for a fun day out [3] such as climbing a huge hill, flying a kite or hunting for some treasure on a beach.

Over the half-term period there will be hundreds of family walking adventures at National Trust properties as part of the Great British Walk, which has been organised in partnership with PruHealth.

These walks are the perfect way for kids to tick off their ‘50 things to do before they’re 11 ¾’ including collecting and play conkers and picking and eating apples straight from the tree [4].

Simon Pryor, Natural Environment Director at the National Trust, said: “Despite the fact that TV seems to be dominating family life its really encouraging that children and parents want to spend more time together and that walking is seen as a great way of doing just that.

“Walking is a brilliant way for families to spend time together, get fit and discover the joy of the British countryside.

“And with so many great activities taking place at National Trust properties around the country this half-term there’s no better time to get out and go on a walking adventure.”

Mumsnet co-founder and CEO Justine Roberts added:  “It’s all too easy to end up spending all family time in front of screens, watching TV or playing video games. Spending time with the children outdoors can be just as cheap as well as fun and educational and offers a bit of balance in a world dominated by X-Factor and Fifa 12.”

Dr William Bird, a GP and an expert in environment and health, said: “Children can benefit hugely from walking in the outdoors. High blood pressure, cholesterol and depression can be detected in children as young as 10, due to inactivity. Spending time with family, in the outdoors, can invigorate even the most TV or X-box-obsessed children!”

Families can also download free family friendly trails from and they can also share their favourite walks online for the chance to win a stay in a National Trust holiday cottage [5].

Other findings from the research include:

Eighty one per cent of children aged 8 to 11 surveyed said they watched TV and DVDs with their parents in their free time, 69 per cent go on activity trips and days out, while 66 per cent go to the park together, 61 per cent said they went go to the cinema together, 50 per cent playing sport and 52 per cent on walks.

When asked the same question, parents of children 18 and under who spend their free time together, answered slightly differently but TV still came out top, with 72 per cent.  According to parents, the second most common joint activity was going to the park (47 per cent), followed by going on activity/day trips (46 per cent) and going walking ranked fourth with 37 per cent.  

When asked which activities they’d like to do more with their children, 18 and under parents said day trips were the only activity that was more popular than walking, with 56 per cent of parents saying they would like to go on more joint outings with their kids, compared to 49 per cent that said they’d like to spend more time on walks with their children.

The 8 to 11 year olds surveyed said they’d like to spend more time with their parents doing outdoor activities such as going to the park (47 per cent) and playing sport (46 per cent).

Over half of the parents surveyed (54 per cent) said they spend more time with their children than their own parents did. And one in three (35 per cent) of parents said that they would like to spend more leisure time with their children.

Not surprisingly, the figures for teenagers (12-15 year olds) wanting to spend more time with their parents (13 per cent) drop off though only 2 per cent of 12-15 year olds want to spend less time with their parents.

 – ends –

Notes to editors:

[1] All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Both surveyed were carried out online.

Children’s survey :  Total sample size 493 (of which 230 were aged 8 to 11 and 263 aged 12 to 15). Fieldwork was undertaken between 25th September – 1st October 2012.  The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB children (aged 8-15).

Parents survey: Total sample size was 2054 adults (of which 492 were parents of children aged 18 and under). Fieldwork was undertaken between 28th September – 1st October 2012 The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

[2] The figure among parents with children aged 18 and under was 72 per cent and 81 per cent 8-11 year olds surveyed. 

[3] Mumsnet users’ top five tips for days out and about with the family:

–          Keep it simple.  A day out with the children doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate – sometimes heading a little further afield to a different park rather than walking to your usual playground is a real treat.

–          Buy an annual membership for the family, whether it’s for a local farm, adventure playground or for the National Trust – it saves money long-term and provides a good reminder to get out there regularly.

–          Make the most of outdoor spaces where your children can run around and use their imagination. You could go for a forest walk, visit the grounds of a country house or take a trip to the beach. Bonus points if they get to interact with wildlife along the way.

–          Be prepared for the elements.  Suntan lotion, rain ponchos, extra layers and comfortable shoes or wellies (for everyone) will ensure a family day out remains a fun one, whatever the weather decides.

–          Packed lunch is a must.  A carefully prepared cool bag, complete with frozen drink cartons and finger food favourites means that you won’t get caught out on a  day out or end up paying a fortune for expensive snacks and drinks.

[4] The full list of 50 things can be found at and you can also find some great ideas for walks which can help you tick off some of the list during the Autumn.

[5] As part of the Great British Walk families are being encouraged to share their favourite walks and have the chance to win a stay in a National Trust holiday cottage and have their walk illustrated.  Full terms and conditions about the competition can be found on the website at



One thought on “Plea for more family time from 1 in 5 kids

  1. Great Piece I cannot believe why more people do not simply go walking! Simple exercise and not high impact at all. A good healthy walk in the countryside is a winner. Not just for the walking but the chance just to be and let you mind wander. That’s good for 5 year olds as well as 50 year olds.

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