SHORTER days make it hard for young people to get outdoors together before darkness falls, according to new research by car maker Dacia and the Scouts, the UK's largest youth movement.
The YouGov study revealed nearly three-quarters of young people spend their entire weekends in hibernation mode over the winter months.
When asked why respondents would not take part in fun outdoor activities between the winter months, the top reasons included poor weather conditions (58 per cent), not having a place to go (25 per cent), or not having any ideas for fun outdoor activities (21 per cent).
Parents are trying to encourage young people to head outdoors, with nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of young people admitting that their parents have attempted to get them to go outdoors during the winter months.
Teens have refused the opportunity to go outdoors due to choosing to connect with friends by being online, for example, social media or video games (51 per cent).
When asked how they prefer to spend their time indoors, the top reasons included watching their favourite television shows or films (71 per cent), playing video games online with friends (67 per cent) and connecting with friends on social media (55 per cent).
Despite this, over two-thirds (68 per cent) of young people surveyed agreed they would be more willing to go on outdoor adventures with friends if it was easier. Similarly, nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) say they would be more likely to go on fun outdoor adventures with friends than stay indoors if it was less expensive.
Dacia and Scouts have now partnered to help make adventure more accessible for young people for winter and beyond with a £50,000 grant pot for the movement.
This fund will be used to train volunteer Scout Leaders, to help develop their adventure skills so that they can pass it on for years to come.
Skills in canoeing, climbing and navigation will help Scouts from across the UK, especially in those harder to reach communities where volunteer Scout Leaders are key to unlocking adventure for young people.
"The research is telling us that there's a real lean towards ‘hibernation mode' as kids get to tween/teenage years", says Professor Sam Wass, one of the UK's leading child psychologists. "Anyone who is a parent to an older child knows it can be difficult to persuade them to go outside, but there's lots of evidence for countless benefits if they can get motivated to go outside. It's great to see Dacia and Scouts partner together and set up a fund to encourage more outdoor activity in young people."
In addition, Dacia is the headline sponsor of The Adventure Challenge Badge, whereby Scouts must take part in four adventure challenges such as climbing, sailing, or kayaking, demonstrate the skills they have acquired and learn about the activity's environmental impact.
Luke Broad, Dacia brand director for the UK, said: "Adventure is in our brand's DNA, and we want to encourage Brits to make the most of spending time outdoors due to its many benefits. With the research showing that young people spend more time online than outdoors, we want to help families balance screen time and outdoor time into their daily schedules. We're hoping through our new partnership with Scouts we can encourage more outdoor activity, showing that it is easy, fun and accessible to all - especially in the colder months when people find it more difficult being outside."
Ayesha Karim, UK youth commissioner at Scouts, said: "Through our new partnership with Dacia, we want to encourage young people to take part in more outdoor activities so they can enjoy the benefits of the outdoors, even as the nights grow darker.
"Our research shows that young people are keen to spend their spare time online rather than outdoors due to needing access to outdoor spaces and activities. We hope this partnership will help boost more outdoor time, showing young people how easy, creative, and accessible it can be - just like online gaming and using social media."
Bear Grylls, the Chief Scout said: "Young people often tend to hibernate over the winter months and spend much of their spare time online. But we also now know that young people are likely to go outdoors and have an adventure with friends, especially if it is less expensive. Scouting is so good at giving young people that exact opportunity. Scouting is all about showing young people how easy, creative, and accessible getting into the outdoors can be. And we feel better, stronger, and happier when we do that."
Dacia and the Scouts have created a guide to winter adventureto encourage more outdoor activity in the colder months, which includes tips and top activities to do with friends and family. Scouts and
Dacia recommends the following top 10 outdoor activities to take part in this winter:
1. Camping in the cold
2. Fire lighting
3. Outdoor cooking
4. Predicting weather conditions
5. Wildlife watching
6. Shelter building
7. Hiking, navigation
8. Geocaching (locating objects outdoors using maps and GPS)
9. Winter cycling
10. Volunteering and fundraising