A depressing report from the sinister sounding Future Foundation, which claims 25% of children spend ALL their spare time in front of a screen. I assume it's more or less the same 25% who can't tell the difference between a wasp and a bee, who become the 26% of teenagers who, according to the National Trust, think that bacon comes from sheep. Apparently parents blame bad weather or safety for their children not getting out more (or maybe worries about the sky falling in) - these are the grownups who don't know that conkers grow on Chestnut Trees (40% of respondents). It's just as well they don't make their children play outside; a third of under 16s won't because they don't like getting their clothes dirty.
Quite apart from the direct results of our failure to get these children to understand and enjoy their environment, I can't help but wonder what the social consequences might be of their sense of alienation outside a virtual or completely urban world. It's not only "the countryside", or even the back garden, that must seem remote and irrelevant, but also topics like food production and conservation, for example, both of which are of massive direct concern to everyone. How could any of these children care about pig welfare? The forest sell off? Habitat loss? Does it matter that they can't have a clue?
Perhaps this is just part of the fragmentation of a society which is becoming more consumer driven and complex and in which, consequently, people's worlds are becoming more and more isolated and remote from each other. Dave, perhaps reconnecting them is part of what the BIG SOCIETY should be about?