Image credit: Erwyn van der Meer.
According to a survey of 14 countries by Gymboree, a US company which encourages kids to play outside, Chinese children under 6 spend less than an hour outside every day, a quarter of the global average.
The situation is improving as Chinese parents start to see the value of time outside for their offspring, and less time in the sterilised, brightly lit worlds of retail China.
According to a McKinsey survey, China’s children may soon be seeing less of the inside of shopping malls anyway. The proportion of Chinese consumers who identify “retail-tainment” as a favourite pastime has fallen from more than half a few years ago to about 40 per cent now, and will be less than a third by 2020. That leaves a lot more time for fireflies.
Shanghai-based charity Friends of Nature is working hard to overcome what it calls China’s “nature deficit disorder”. The environmental charity, which also lobbies for better wildlife protections, regularly organises trips into nature for city children, allowing them to see a different world to the gleaming towers and cement streets of Shanghai.