Youth participation in outdoor activities is lowering. This has been noted since 2006 by research dated 2009.
In 2009, The Outdoor Foundation conducted a nationwide survey of over 41,000 individuals between the ages of 6 and 25. In this report, a number of key findings were outlined, including the following:
- 59% of 6- to 24 year-olds participated in outdoor recreation (defined as having taken part in one or more of 40 activities at least once during 2008). (Availability of outdoor playground equipment can improve this statistic)
- Youth participants made up 34% of all outdoor recreation participants. Participation in outdoor recreation was highest among 6- to 12-year-olds at 64%, declined to 61% for 13- to 17-year-olds, and declined further to 54% for 18- to 24-year-olds.
- Youth participation in outdoor recreation declined since 2006 in all age groups and among both boys and girls. The rate of decline was greatest among 6- to 12-year-old girls (77% in 2006 versus 58% in 2008).
- More males participated in outdoor recreation than females (56% versus 44%).
- More Caucasians participated in outdoor recreation than other ethnic populations (79%versus 7.4% for African Americans).
- Running, bicycling, and freshwater fishing were the most popular outdoor activitiesamong youth.
- Parents, friends, and family were the strongest influences in getting younger children toparticipate in outdoor recreation.
- 46% of youth reported that lack of time and interest kept them from participating inoutdoor activities more often.
- Youth with nearby walking and biking routes participated in more outdoor recreation(21% more for walking routes and 25% more for biking routes).
This nationwide survey provides important information about trends in and characteristics of youth outdoor recreation, which can help inform research, policy, and programs focused on enhancing children’s outdoor experience