“The Big Disconnect” by Catherine Steiner-Adair; here’s how you and your family can re-connect!

Take a look at this new book “The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age” byCatherine Steiner-Adair EdD.

Catherine Steiner-Adair clinical instructor in the department of psychiatry at Harvard, a school consultant, and a therapist in private practice, interviewed over a thousand children between the ages of 4 and 18 looking at how technology was effecting their relationships and their social and emotional lives. Hardly surprisingly she found that the amount of screen time was detrimental to childhood development; and because of their parents’ obsession with their devices children were having to compete for their parents attention, harming communication and even fracturing families.  In an interview with the Huffington post she suggests 8 important things all parents should know about “screen time”. Take a look, very few of us have escaped completely and even we are a little guilty of some of these!


But the solution is simple, if you are guilty of disconnecting, help your family re-connect by making a conscious effort to go outside and have some fun in the natural world at least once a week. If you are short of ideas for outdoor adventures, buy one of our books or have a go at our weekend “challenges”.

boats wild weather launch-16Every Friday we will post a simple idea for a fun activities you can have a go at that weekend.  It’s not a “screen” ban, just an opportunity to have some fun outdoors with your children for a couple of hours every week.  Have a go and post some of your adventures on twitter with #screenfree and #goingwildnet for others to share and a chance to win a signed copy of one of our books.

One third of children now use computer tablets before they can talk!

New research by an organisation called Common Sense Media on 2000 young children  found that 38% of children under the age of 2 have used a mobile device for playing games, watching videos or other media-related purposes. In 2011, only 10% had. Not only this but the average time that each child spends on smart mobile devices has tripled.  photoCommon sense tells us that technology cannot be ignored, that our children need to be able to navigate it, but we mustn’t forget they need to be able to navigate the real world too.

At this very young age their brains are still developing and screen based images can have a profound detrimental effect.  Many other countries have recognised this and it is illegal to target games and TV programmes for under twos but not in the UK.  Sadly things have got out of balance, perspectives have become skewed, so people feel they would be doing a bad parenting job if they let their kids play outside getting dirty but think it is fine to plug them in.

What is happening?  Do parents really believe letting their children sit in front of these screens for so much of their waking time is educational or good for them?  Are they just becoming more lazy, or could they possibly be becoming so addicted to their own mobile devices they don’t care what their children are doing?   Teachers are persistently reporting an increase of language delay when children first start school. Hardly surprising when they have been so busy watching they haven’t had time to communicate with real people and learn to talk, or the real people are too busy to look up from their screens to talk to them!  mud sculptures 21

Isn’t it common sense to conclude that if our children are spending longer in front of a screen being entertained, they are obviously spending less time doing other things, like interacting with their friends and family, playing and exploring the natural world they live in? Are we forgetting the value of this free playtime, loosing perspective on what years of evolution has perfected; how we learn?  We learn from interaction, free explorative play and personal experience not passive screen based entertainment. That should be left for a bit of relaxation at the end of an inquisitive day.

But never fear, there is a solution.  Let your older children play on their devices  but only after they have had some real life experiences.  Reconnect them to the natural world by stepping outside for a little time every day.  It can take a short time for them to truly get unplugged, but if you persevere, very quickly they find things to explore and have fun.

If you are worried about what to do and need a little inspiration, take one of our books with you as a starting point for some wonderful truly educational adventures. Ironically they even come in e-book format so you can take them out on those smart phones.  Now there is no excuse to strike a better healthier balance, let the technology take you out!



it’s time to re-wild our kids with more wild time!  The UK’s biggest ever campaign to reconnect children with nature and outdoor play is being launched today by the newly formed Wild Network, as it encourages the nation’s parents to swap some of their kids’ screen time for wild time.

Swapping thirty minutes of screen time for an extra half an hour of wild time every day would decrease children’s time in front of screens by ten per cent. This could help increase levels of physical activity, alertness and ultimately improve their well-being.

This new campaign is being launched on the back of an important and compelling new documentary film, ‘Project Wild Thing’, which is being shown at over fifty cinemas across the UK from the 25 October.   Three years in the making, ‘Project Wild Thing’ takes a funny and moving look at one of the most complex issues of the age – the increasingly fragile link between children and nature.  In a bid to get his daughter and son off the sofa and outdoors, filmmaker and father David Bond appoints himself as the Marketing Director for Nature.  He wants his brand – nature – to stand out from the crowd of brands competing for their attention, and works with branding and outdoor experts to develop and launch a campaign to get children outdoors and into nature – the ultimate, free, wonder-product.

The reasons why kids, whether they live in cities or the countryside, have become disconnected from nature and the outdoors are complex. “’Project Wild Thing’ isn’t some misty eyed nostalgia for the past; we need to make more space for wild time in children’s daily routine, freeing this generation of kids to have the sort of experiences that many of us took for granted.  “It’s all about finding wildness on your doorstep and discovering the sights, sounds and smells of nature, whether in a back garden, local park or green space at the end of the road. Spending time outdoors is hugely beneficial to children and young people. Research clearly shows that it improves their health, reduces stress and boosts wellbeing.”

Going Wild is delighted to be part of The Wild Network, which is made up of more than 370 organisations, large and small, is leading a campaign calling for more wild time for every child, every day. Members of the network include the National Trust, RSPB, Play England and the NHS Sustainable Development Unit.

Andy Simpson, Chair of the Wild Network, said: “The tragic truth is that kids have lost touch with nature and the outdoors in just one generation. New research published last week illustrates the scale of the challenge with only one in five (21 per cent) children aged eight to twelve years old having a connection with nature. An extra thirty minutes of wild time every day for all under 12-year olds in the UK would be the equivalent of just three months of their childhood spent outdoors.  We want parents to see what this magical wonder-product does for their kids’ development, independence and creativity, by giving wild time a go.”

The discussion about swapping screen time for wild time will continue on twitter via the feed @wearewildthing and using the hashtag #wildtime.


Just one in five chidren connected to nature

Are you connected to nature?

We at Going Wild are often asked what evidence there is for children becoming increasingly disconnected from nature and green spaces.  A recent study from the RSPB is the latest project to find that large numbers of children in Britain are missing out on the natural world. The three-year project found that only 21% of children aged 8-12 were “connected to nature”.

For more information see http://ow.ly/25pOmn.


The Big Wild Sleepout!

Big Wild Sleepout at Wytham Woods

This great event is one of 49 “sleepout” events happening all over the country and people can take part in their back garden to – see www.rspb.org.uk/events/details.aspx?id=tcm:9-348186

Saturday 10 August and Sunday 11 August

4.00pm Saturday to 11.00am Sunday

Price: Members: Adult £30/child £18 and Non members: Adult £38/child £22 (includes tasty BBQ from 6pm with optional extra cooked breakfast)

Booking essential

Date: Saturday 10 August

Start: 4 pm to pitch tents (optional 2pm guided walk if you want to see the woods in the daylight – this is open to the general public)

Finish: 10.30 – 11.00 am Sunday

Costs: Members: Adult £30/child £18 and Non members: Adult £38/child £22 (includes tasty BBQ from 6pm with optional extra cooked breakfast)

A unique opportunity for you and your family to camp out over night at Oxford University’s famous research woodland. Home to an amazing collection of wildlife this is your chance to sleepout in their home. The woods are normally only open to those with permits and we are delighted to  invite you to join us for your most memorable night of the school holidays!

Activities will include:

·         An evening badger watch and night time walk with bat detectors. We will be joined by experts from the university who will share with us the insights of these most studied badgers and a chance to peek into the lives of the bats.

·         We will run moth traps to find who else was flying around the woods

·         Follow a woodland trail and take part in activities to give you ideas about how to bring wildlife into your garden

·         A campfire will give us all the opportunity to share our wildlife stories and of course toast marshmallows!

Please note NO DOGS are allowed at this event.

Booking information: Through the Midlands Regional Office , Lucy Brown Tel: 01295 676443 bwsowytham@rspb.org.uk orlucy.brown@rspb.org.uk Participants will be asked to bring their own tea/coffee, mugs, plates and cutlery. Hot water and milk will be provided.

Participants will need to bring their own camping equipment (tent, sleeping bag, pegs, mallet, torch, sleeping mat, warm clothes, waterproofs) along with tea/coffee, mugs, plates and cutlery. Water (hot & cold) and milk will be provided for drinks. Please do not bring camping stoves.

We will also be offering the opportunity to learn bushcraft skills with www.wildernesspioneers.co.uk. You will be shown how to pitch tarps in the bushcraft area for your overnight stay. There will be a fire-making demo on Sunday morning. Tarps will be provided and you will join the main group for the evening meal. This activity has limited space so please request your spaces when you make your booking.


If you want to learn a little more about Wytham woods watch The Laboratory With Leaves video on Youtube.

This Easter holidays, no need to plan entertainment. Un-plug the screens and give the kids the opportunity to run wild!

natural shelter-7One of my best memories of childhood was the wonderful feeling I got at the beginning of the school holidays.  The prospect of weeks of endless long lazy days spreading ahead with absolutely nothing to do!  The excitement of the un-known, of where the natural world would take me and what adventures were out there just waiting to be had.  It is a feeling I have never forgotten and a gift I have tried to give my own children.  It is also one of the main reasons I starting writing our series of books with Fiona to encourage more children to get outside and have fun.

But sadly in this modern age few children get to experience this feeling, the hours of fun had exploring outdoors, nature, of big open and un-spoilt places; the euphoric feeling of freedom!  Let’s face it few of us have endless free time to spare, or live in an idyllic places where there is no traffic and are prepared to let the children run wild.  Time has a habit of whizzing by being filled up with work commitments and organized activities and unless we actually make a conscious effort to get out with our children, to slow things down, go with the flow and let things happen; opportunities for making those childhood memories will have passed.

But it may be news to you that actually it isn’t that hard to give them at least a little taste of the magic I experienced as a child.  The key is to find a safe environment and under your watchful eye, leave them to their own devices. Now this doesn’t have to be somewhere far away, up a mountain, or in the depth of the countryside.  Your garden or local park can feel big and wild to a small child. It is the freedom that children need, the freedom to play, to be in control (or at least feel they are), to make their own choices and judge risks for themselves.

Holidays are very precious and time even more so.  To guarantee success many parents fear they need to plan, go somewhere different everyday and pack exciting entertainment into their “quality time”.   But it may surprise many that these fears are very often unfounded.  Given the gift of freedom, and the chance to roam safely, many children will not be bored for long.  The outdoors will quickly weave it’s magic on them and in no time children will be entertaining themselves, making dens, concocting mud pies, collecting sticks and experiencing that magic of freedom I so enjoyed as a child.  And it’s good for the Parents too, they can just relax. No time deadlines, no transport issues, no mess to clear up in-doors, and the best bit is nature is totally free.  The only downside perhaps is the washing machine may need to work overtime!

mud sculptures 21And what about the weather I hear you cry?  This is the UK, the odds are the rain will stop play and everyone ends up indoors in front of a screen so you might as well not bother.  My answer to this is that part of the adventure is to experience all weathers.  Many of the most fun times we have had outdoors as a family have been in rather extreme weather!  If you don’t believe me try it out, put a copy of our new book in your pocket and set out for an adventure.  “The Wild Weather book” is packed full of things you stand to miss out on if you stay indoors when it is raining, windy or freezing cold!  Make your own kite, race homemade boats, or simply have fun puddle jumping.  As long as you dress for the weather and have a lovely warm place to return to, you won’t regret it, memories like these are priceless.

The Wild Weather book was published by Frances Lincoln this March.  Just in time for Easter fun! http://www.franceslincoln.co.uk/en/C/0/Book/5059/The_Wild_Weather_Book.html

Come along to our launch at Camley Street Nature Park, Kings Cross, London this Sunday 11.00 – 3.00pm.  Lots of wild weather activities and free entry, or better still forget coming and let the kids run wild instead!