Instead of buying your child a boring old iPad for Christmas, get them a stick

Powered by article titled “Instead of buying your child a boring old iPad for Christmas, get them a stick” was written by Rebecca Smithers, for The Guardian on Monday 2nd December 2013 06.00 UTC

With sales of tablets, smartphones and gadgets predicted to soar this Christmas, many British households will soon be temples to the latest technology.

But parents are now being asked to consider a low-tech alternative – to root around in the back garden and give their children a stick or a stone instead, in place of the latest smartphone, and to swap “screen time” for “wild time”.

The Wild Network ( wants to drag youngsters off the sofa and get them interested in nature and outdoor play.

The network has therefore drawn up an “alternative Christmas list for kids” that suggests a stick makes a brilliant gift. Sticks, it helpfully suggests for baffled parents, are “easy to pick up, perform a thousand different uses and can be thrown away as easily as you found it. Great for helping with imaginary games, playing Pooh sticks, building things.”

Think that may be a tad tricky to wrap? Then what about a smooth stone “which can be skimmed or carved” or a pair of wellington boots for “jumping in puddles, wading through streams, walking along muddy lanes”.

A National Trust spokesman said: “Technology has a role to play in all of our lives but so does time spent in nature and playing outdoors – whether that’s a local park, green space or a trip to the country.”

The Wild Network was founded in September this year and members include the National Trust, Play England, the Scouts, the National Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens, Play England, RSPB, NHS Trusts, schools, playgroups, local authorities and outdoor centres. They have all signed up to encourage children to spend time outside.

New research has shown that children spend an average of 4.5 hours a day looking at electronic screens. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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