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Playing outside is no longer as popular as it used to be. Playgrounds are increasingly deserted because children prefer to play indoors.

The reason? Children are consumed by screens. Videos and games are therefore very addictive. But playing outside has a lot of benefits for the development of children.

For example, it stimulates creativity, ensures a healthy immune system and is good for vitamin D.

Playing outside

It is therefore important to encourage children to play outside more. But how do you do that?

In this article we give you a number of tips.

In addition to these spell to do we have previously prepared an extensive list of it nicest toys to give them outside.

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How do you get children to play outside?

Still, stimulating outdoor games in a world where playing with screens is extremely popular is not that easy. That is why we asked 6 experts for an explanation.

Also watch the interviews:

Daniel Tetteroo from Picoo:

Teun Latour from Pleintje:

Maarten Wolzak from Myndr:

Pauline van de Loo from Jantje Beton:

How playing outside used to be

In the old days, when the lampposts came on, everyone knew it was time to go home.

A few minutes later, the neighborhood was dead quiet. It seemed like a universal rule.

At that time, groups of children gathered every day on 'Het Veldje', as we called it. A piece of grass with a blue slide and a, slightly too small, red see-saw.

Together we played tag, played soccer, and climbed trees until the famous lamp posts went on, or until our mothers called us for dinner.

Although the latter did not always stop us, so we had to eat our peas cold.


How long do you leave your child on a screen per day?

not at all
max 30 minutes
max one hour
max one and a half hours
max two hours
as much as they want
Created with SurveyMaker

To the (game) computers. Nintendo, Playstation and Gameboy: It was a big part of my childhood. Nintendo in particular was a favorite.

With my neighbor, I played a lot of Mario games on my brother's Nintendo 64. So often, that the controllers couldn't handle it ... Oops!

Playing outside is increasingly losing popularity. Research by Jantje Beton and Kantar (2018) shows that 86% of children do not play outside every day.

A shocking 28% of kids never play outside or once a week.

This is in stark contrast to previous generations. For example, as parents, or our parents, we played outside almost 70% more.

This is alarming, because playing outside is very healthy for the development of children. What is the reason that children play outside less?

And what are the benefits of playing outside?

How can we, as parents, encourage our children to go outside more in a time where digital devices are always on?

Why do children play outside less?

The numbers don't lie: Children play outside much less than previous generations.

Indoor games are popular. This is mainly due to the addictive digital devices.

The Digital World: Professor Peter Nikken explains

The digital world is attractive to children. Professor Peter Nick, senior advisor on youth, media and media education at the Netherlands Youth Institute and lecturer in Youth and media at Windesheim University of Applied Sciences, says that the time children spend on devices has grown in recent years.

Professor Peter Nikken

Mostly children's tablets are popular. In the period 2012 to 2015, there has been an increase in the use of tablets by children up to the age of six.

The growth is greatest in children under the age of four. Since tablets are on the market, they have been working on screens for half an hour longer.

Playing on a tablet is easy, and therefore fun. All kinds of things happen just by touching the screen.

And you don't have to be able to read, calculate, or even recognize figures for that.

“It's like finger painting for them. You don't need more than a fingertip. You touch it and something happens on its own, ”says Professor Nikken.

But this also makes it more difficult to stop, Professor Nikken explains. “Because it is so easy for children, they no longer have any inhibitions and they keep going.

A keyboard and a large mouse are motorically difficult for children, so they quickly let it go and do something else.

But because this works so easily and automatically, children are left mesmerized.

What do children think about playing outside?

So those tablets are very interesting. But what do children think about playing outside? Isn't that fun at all anymore?
Well, that's not entirely true. Although the figures do show a critical note. For example, in the research by Jantje Beton and Kantar (2018) we see that:

  • 39% of the children prefer to play indoors;
  • Three quarters of the children indicate that there should be more exciting play areas (74%);
  • According to 58% more activities should be organized;
  • And according to 57% there should be more squares or lawns.

The consequence? Less children play outside. This in turn makes it difficult to play together and make new friends.

A pity, because playing outside is so healthy!

Now you often have to bring all your toys with you to have a lot of fun outside.

I even have this article about wagon carts especially to make it easier to lug everything along.

Also definitely worth reading if you think about often dragging a lot of stuff (and children).

Benefits of Playing Outside

Sitting indoors all day is not healthy for anyone, but especially not for children. They are in full development, and sitting indoors a lot can be harmful.

The following factors of outdoor play are extremely important for the development of children:

Healthy Eyes

We now know that watching a lot of television, but also reading a lot, for example, has no positive effect on our eyes.

This has to do with the distance from the eyes to the screen.

Children who look at a screen too much run the risk of myopia, which means that they need glasses early.

By going outside a lot, you ensure that your child also has to view things from a great distance.

In this way, the muscles in the eyes develop better. And that is important at a young age, in the period when the eyes are developing.

Outdoor Movement

Perhaps obvious, but outside there is more space, so a child will move more quickly while playing outside than playing inside.

Running, jumping, climbing: It's all good for fitness, motor development, spatial awareness, and the development of muscles and bones.

In addition, actively playing outside ensures a healthy immune system, a good dose of vitamin D, and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and obesity.


The outside environment is cognitively stimulating for children. Creative, new games are conceived and executed here.

Turning the playground into a jungle, collecting and trading stones as if they were valuable diamonds, or having temporary super powers ...

Playing outside stimulates children's imaginations.

Also read: creative with sand with the best sandboxes

Play together

A child can play indoors well alone. Hours can be filled with games or YouTube videos.

Playing outside on the other hand, encourages playing together with other children. This has a positive effect on the development of social skills and empathy.

For example, losing or winning a game of football. Or negotiate to make sure you get to play on the best team.

In short, the list is long. Perhaps the most important thing is that 75% of the children indicate that they feel cheerful and happy after playing outside for a while (Kantar & Jantje Beton 2018).

An extra reason to encourage children to go outside more!

How do you encourage children to play outside?

But, how do you get children to resist the addictive screens and go outside? We asked a number of experts for tips.

Expert 1: GGD Kennemerland

“We recommend that parents children encouraging them to exercise for one to one and a half hours every day, especially playing outside.” – Anja Oude Lansink, JGZ staff nurse at GGD Kennemerland.

The GGD supports families and children whose health is at risk, partly due to too little exercise.

We then look together at drawing up rules.

For example, think of a maximum of two hours a day of screen time, or unlimited screen time one day a week during the holidays.

When drawing up these rules, it is important to consider what suits a family. “We are not going to point the finger at 'this is how it should be', but we do give suggestions and indicate what other parents are doing, for example,” says Anja Oude Lansink.

According to Anja, it is important as a parent to think carefully about media education and setting boundaries.

"Two-year-olds are already regularly on a tablet or something similar, so it actually starts with thinking about as early as possible as a parent of gosh, what do I really want with regard to media education, and how do I deal with that?"

However, the GGD is not against apps and screens. For example, the Runkeeper app can provide useful insight into calorie consumption, and certain games on the Wii can provide a good workout.

Anja also gives the tip to look at what there is to do in the area for children.

It is important that the activities are close to home, so that the threshold is much lower to participate.

Do you want to know more about media education? Anja recommends the website .

On this website you will find an e-course full of useful tips about internet and social media use by children. And this course is completely free!

Expert 2: Jantje Concrete

Pauline van der Loo, program team leader at Jantje Beton

“Go outside yourself. But it doesn't always have to be together. Let children also go on an adventure themselves, because they really enjoy it.

It's just part of a healthy upbringing.

Just as you pay attention to healthy eating, make sure that children enjoy themselves outside. ”- Pauline van der Loo, team leader programs at Jantje Beton

Jantje Beton is the charity that, together with children, strives for more space and playing time.

Every year, more than 350.000 children participate in Jantje Beton's activities and projects.

Jantje Beton, for example, organizes an annual NK Curbs and, in collaboration with Nickelodeon, the National Outdoor Play Day.

Their motto is: Never stop playing.

In 2018, Jantje Beton researched outdoor games in collaboration with Kantar Public. Pauline van der Loo explains:

"Children themselves indicate that there are too few other children outside, that they prefer to play inside, and that they find it boring outside."

How can children find playing outside boring? “Children think it is important that there are more mysterious places and that they can play more adventurously.

It's not always about playground equipment, but especially for space and more adventurous places,” says Pauline.

Jantje Beton is therefore working with children to look at how the neighborhood can be made more playful so that more children go outside.

And what can parents do to encourage outdoor play? “Set a good example, very important of course!

But sometimes it is also a step to go outside, it can be exciting.

You can also go through the neighborhood with your child, for example. Where do children you might know live? Where can you play nice here?

That you will explore that together. Another tip could be that you, for example, create an app group with parents in the neighborhood of: When will they play outside?

Or you agree that you will always play a game with each other in the evening after dinner. ”

And of course children can participate in the activities organized by Jantje Beton, or ask them for help in making the neighborhood more playful.

For more information on

For more tips to make playing outside more fun, Pauline recommends the website to watch. Here you will find play tips, facts and cool play stories.

Technology and Outdoor games: How do you combine it?

Yet it is difficult to ignore the digital world altogether. Screens are everywhere.

The experts below explain how they use technology to stimulate outdoor play.

Expert 3: Myndr - The Thermostat for your Internet

“Children themselves also indicate that they spend too much time on devices. But the temptation is too great. ” - Maarten Wolzak, co-founder of Myndr

Myndr: The thermostat for your internet. With a simple button on the wall you can easily filter internet services. The consequence? More attention for your family.

Maarten Wolzak, co-founder of Myndr, says that the idea originated during a dinner with friends where the children were constantly distracted by their mobile phone.

“We had a conversation with those parents about how they had so much trouble with that, and that it was so terribly annoying in the relationship between the children and the parents.

On the way back from that, my wife said: 'You are always working on extra projects, can't you do something about it?' ”

But, Maarten emphasizes, Myndr is not only developed for children. Screens are everywhere and equally addictive for everyone.

Adults, and even the elderly, are also addicted to the devices.

“You see it with everyone. You regularly walk down the street and you see terraces where two seniors have a drink next to each other and they are both on their phones.

Or in a restaurant you see a whole family behind the mobile phone while they are out for dinner together. Take the train once: Everyone is on it. ”

Myndr works as a digital yes / no sticker. It consists of two parts: The Myndr switch and the Myndr WiFi.

A cable that you connect to the router acts as a doorman and ensures that certain websites and notifications do not arrive.

A button on the wall determines the 'door policy': Which websites and notifications do you allow at that time? Handy, for example, for when children are doing their homework.

Wikipedia can still be visited, but Facebook and Instagram cannot. So less distraction.

In this way, Myndr is a tool to better use the internet.

In addition, the button on the wall makes the whole process democratic. Every member of the family can see the switch and turn it.

And that is important, says Maarten. Children are well aware that they spend too much time on devices.

But the temptation is great. “So we don't think it makes much sense to ban things.

That's why Myndr is meant to be a democratic process, just like you may or may not turn on the television during dinner.

You also determine that together.

Sometimes it is, for example when there is an important match or something else, and the other times not because you want to talk to each other. ”

The result is that children also regularly turn the switch as soon as their parents are too busy with devices.

Myndr dealing more consciously with the internet and filters

Isn't that boring without the internet? “Sometimes yes,” says Maarten.

But, he says, boredom is not a bad thing. It has long been part of a child's daily activities.

It stimulates children to become creative and to look for alternatives themselves. Like playing outside!
Are you interested in Myndr? For more information, go to

Also read: this is the best wooden outdoor toys rated

Expert 4: Picoo- Playing outside with Technology

“How do you get children off the couch? That is the basis with which we started Picoo. ” - Daniel Tetteroo, Co-Founder Picoo.

Together with his partner Iris Soute, Daniel Tetteroo invented Picoo.

This portable game computer combines interactive technology with traditional outdoor games. Ideal for taking outside.

Daniel Tetteroo from Picoo app

Iris and Daniel raised the question: How do you ensure that children go outside more, and especially enjoy it?

“You can basically pull your child off the couch, push out the door and say, 'Well, enjoy yourself.'

But then you force play outside and a child is not motivated to go outside by itself.

So we thought: Can't we do that in a fun way so that children want to play outside?

And what do they like about playing indoors? That's that interactive of games. Can't we take that element outside with us? "

You will receive Picoo in a set of 12. All kinds of games can be played by means of light, sound and vibrations.

Think of tag, hide and seek and the exciting self-made spy hunt.

You get five games, but new games can be added via an accompanying app.

The basis of Picoo is playing fun games, to which an educational element can be added later.

The sensors in the Picoos measure movement and sound, among other things, and respond to this.

The Picoos also see if there are other active Picoos in the area so that it is easy to play together.

Because Picoo works with its own radio network, no internet connection is required. Picoo can therefore be taken to the playground, the forest, the beach ...

It works everywhere.

The big advantage of Picoo is that there is no screen on the device.

“A child's attention is therefore not always drawn by the screen where all kinds of things are happening, but at first the attention is mainly drawn by the other players who are in the game,” says Daniel.

As a result, children are less concerned with technology and more with each other. And that in turn is positive for social development.

Not only children like Picoo to play with. Daniel explains:

Our target group is children from 6 to 12. Children from the age of 4 can sometimes also play. But very honestly; Children over 12 and adults also really enjoy it! ”

The reactions have therefore been very positive so far. After a while of playing it is even difficult to get the Picoos back and you are asked: "Can I go again?"

Picoo logo

Picoo is currently available for schools and companies <. The goal is to develop a version for home next year.

If you are interested in Picoo for home, please visit the website ( and leave your email address to receive the latest news.

Expert 5: Square - Playing outside with an Interactive App

"I wanted to use the enemy, in this case the technology of today, as a friend to encourage children to play outside again." - Teun Latour, student of Business Studies at the Hogeschool van Amsterdam and co-founder of the app Pleintje.

The idea started with a walk with his parents through his old neighborhood.

Business Administration student Teun Latour immediately noticed that the schoolyard where he used to play was completely deserted.

“There was no child to be seen, you only heard the wind blowing through the trees,” says Teun.

“It was really a reality check of: what's going on? Why don't the children of today enjoy playing outside so much anymore? ”

A minor during his studies offered him the opportunity to further develop the idea together with his partner and fellow student Mik Remmers.

The assignment was to start up your own company.

Teun and Mik immediately wanted to make an app for children. Student Sadjad Mohammadi, Communication and Media Design student, joined them.

It was not easy at first. Teachers were hesitant about the idea of ​​creating an app because of previous experiences.

“It was quite rejected by some teachers in the beginning. But we were pretty tough. We thought yes, sorry, but we will just do this. We support this and want to do this at all costs. ”

After thorough preliminary research with a marketing agency, they were convinced: There should be an app that encourages children to play outside.

The result is Pleintje. The app offers children the opportunity to play interactive outdoor games together.

Children can invite each other through the app. Then they choose a play area and a play category.

“And those are games with a football, outdoor games such as tag, hide and seek (why do they like it so much anyway?) and Annemaria Koekkoek, to games with toys or with play attributes such as jumping rope, skateboarding and so on.”

What makes the app special are the coins that are handed out to the players after playing. This allows them to personalize their personal avatar.

This one gets more beautiful and cooler with time.

And it is not about one avatar, but each game category has its own figure. This is in line with current trends in children's toys.

"Pokémon used to have that too, of course. Your Pokémon is getting better and better and cooler, we now want to bring that to the child by moving more and playing together."

Pleintje interactive outdoor play app

Pleintje also keeps an eye on the wishes of parents. This way parents can see where their children are. That gives a safe feeling.

If a child finds himself outside the agreed area, parents will receive a notification or a pop-up, with the option to call or send a message to the child. Ideal!

At the moment Teun, Mik and Sadjad are working hard to develop the app.

The app will be free for children, but if you as a parent want to keep an eye on your child, you will pay a meager two euros per month.

A telephone is necessary, preferably with internet, although an offline version will also appear on the market.
For more information and updates about the release date of Pleintje, visit Tips: more Apps that Stimulate Outdoor Play

If you can't wait for the Pleintje app to become available in the app store, there are a number of alternative apps on the market that encourage outdoor play and can be downloaded for free:


Does your child love treasure hunts? Then Geocaching is recommended. With Geocaching you go outside in search of hidden treasures (Geocaches) via GPS.

The app will lead you to the location of the Geochache, and then the search is over. Did you find the treasure?

Then write in the logbook, trade one of the items, and look for the next!


Get started making your own quests can be done with the Troovie app.

You go on a treasure hunt in your neighborhood, where you choose from different adventures and ready-made or self-invented assignments.

The app is free, but if you want to go out longer and have more choice in ready-made assignments, there is a paid version. Troovie is also a lot of fun to use for children's parties.


Roootsj provides insight into the playgrounds in your area.

By means of tips from other parents you can see which playgrounds are located in the area and how they are rated.
Ideal for taking the children to a playground that is new to them on a free Saturday or Sunday.

Do you know some nice places yourself? Then add it to the app, so that other parents and children can also enjoy the most beautiful places in the neighborhood.


Do you remember the Tamagotchi? This virtual pet was extremely popular in the late 90's. Wokamon works almost the same as the Tamagotchi.

Here too you can choose from different animals and watch them grow up.

The difference? To make the Wokamon grow, you have to move and walk. The downside to this app is that Wokamon is only available in English.

And if the weather is really bad ...

Tips from Expert 6: Professor Peter Nikken

Despite all the above tips, some cold, wet winter days are simply not suitable for playing outside.

And, to be fair, playing on a tablet or phone is also a lot of fun. How do you play wisely on digital devices?

Try to ensure that the time on devices is well spent, says Professor Nikken.

For example, offer educational apps and review them critically before downloading them.

Is the content appropriate for the age of the children and is the information disseminated by the app correct?

“That is quite difficult for parents to figure out,” says Professor Nikken.

Often, app builders claim that their app is age-appropriate and contains educational content.

But often these types of apps have not been tested enough, so the question is whether this is actually the case.

How do you know whether an app is really suitable?

First, take a good look at the description of the apps, that is a first impression. Read more online reviews and ask about the experiences of other parents.

“Or the children's library,” says Professor Nikken. “Ask the children's librarian if he or she has advice. Nowadays they are increasingly developed in this area. ”In this way you can ensure that if your child looks at a screen, it is not harmful and maybe even educational.

“It doesn't necessarily have to be all bad,” continues Professor Nikken.

"But it depends on the balance between screen use and being outside."


In short, the digital world doesn't have to be that bad.

As long as we try to maintain a good balance, and hopefully in the future can increasingly use technology to encourage outdoor play for our children.

And maybe to let you know we're going to eat. That saves a lot of shouting ...

Lees meer: these are the 17 best games to play outside

Always something to do for the holidays or rainy day?

Play Choice now has the ultimate activity book collection, with over 60 pages of fun coloring pages and educational puzzles.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of is a content marketer, father and loves trying out new toys. As a child he came into contact with everything related to games when his mother started the Tinnen Soldaat in Ede. Now he and his team create helpful blog articles to help loyal readers with fun play ideas.