Kids who watch TV are less likely to go outside at night, according to new research.
In the last decade, kids’ television viewing has fallen by an average of nearly 3 percent.
But during the last year, the number of kids in the U.S. who are outdoors at least one hour per day has increased by a staggering 76 percent.
This is the period when many of us spend the hottest part of the day, when our kids are most likely to get sunburned and sweaty.
“What we’ve found over the last two decades is that kids are actually more exposed to the sun,” said Dr. Michael Wiens, an environmental scientist at Oregon State University.
“That’s when they get their sunburns.”
That means a child is less likely than a child in the 1970s to have gotten sunburn when outdoors, and more likely to be at risk of getting sunburn in the summertime.
“It’s a big risk, especially during the summer months, and it can happen for very different reasons,” said Wiens.
“We see that for the first time in a lot of kids, it may be because they have a parent who has a history of getting very sunburn-prone.”
It’s not just a matter of kids getting more sunburn during the hotter months, though.
Wiens said that in the last 10 years, he’s seen a decline in the percentage of children who have outdoor playtime.
“The number of hours they’re outdoors has gone down, and so has the number that they’re in indoor playtime,” he said.
And while the percentage increase in outdoor play time may seem small, it has a dramatic effect on kids’ overall health.
Wits professor Michael Buss said kids in their 20s who spend a lot more time outdoors are also more likely than their 20-something counterparts to get sick.
And, when it comes to getting sunstroke, those children are more likely if they play in the sun.
“There’s something we know that is quite profound about the relationship between outdoor time and skin cancer risk,” said Buss.
“If kids spend more time in the outdoors, the risk is higher.”