5 September 2017



Our kids spend too much time indoors, on screens, staying clean and, if they are outside, involved in activities organised by adults.

It’s a fact: kids today are more likely to wind up in hospital falling out of a bed than a tree [1], by the time they’re eight they’re spending an average six hours in front of a screen per day [2], and some kids report never having climbed a tree in the first place [3]. Clearly, it’s not their fault, and we need to do something about it.



There is an increasing amount of academic study that highlights how bad this ‘nature deficit disorder’ is for our children: kids’ really need to get outdoors to play free in nature. No helicopters. No rules. No prizes.

Unstructured play outdoors helps kids’ problem-solve, focus, measure and take risks, learn self-discipline and team-build. Through playing together, and following where their imaginations take them, kids learn to cooperate, develop both mental and physical flexibility as well as strength and agility.



This kind of play builds their emotional development and self-esteem, ironically, exactly what parents are hoping to achieve with endless – and expensive – extra-curricular activities, after-school classes and teams.

And if kids can play barefoot, so much the better. Our feet have as many nerve endings as our hands do, so the more sensory messages growing brains get from our feet – the better. The ratio of sensory nerve messages entering the brain to motor nerves stimulation leaving the brain is 40:1, so how children develop their movement skills is directly related to this sensory feedback.



You wouldn’t put boxing gloves on a kids’ hands to draw, pick wildflowers or climb a tree, would you? It might stop them getting splinters – but movement would be limited, fine-motor skills dampened and brains numbed with boredom. It’s the same with our feet. It’s time to free our kids’ – and their feet – into the wild.

But we get that barefoot isn’t always realistic. That’s why we created Vivobarefoot shoes to be barely-there (and sustainable!) with an ultra-thin, puncture resistant sole to keep those vital sensory messages whizzing from feet to growing brains. Vivobarefoot kids are also wide and bendy, allowing kids’ feet to grow strong and flexible for balanced and skilful movement. So what’s good for kids’ feet is also best for their growing brains - and bodies!

But not only do our kids’ need to grow wild – our planet needs this too.



If we deny our children valuable time spent in nature, how can we expect them to care about it in any meaningful way? Our planet is at risk of becoming a ‘thing’ utterly divorced from our daily existence at the worst possible time.

Changing our relationship to the outdoors isn’t hard; after all, kids love being outside, and they love playing without their parents hovering over them. Gardens small and large, parks, abandoned lots, scrubland – anything goes when it comes to setting them free. And it doesn’t cost a thing. 

So try it. Get out there. Set them free. Watch them grow wild.


You may also want to read: 

Washington Post: The Decline of playing in pre-schoolers and the rise in sensory issues



[1] www.news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/7358717.stm

[2] www.bbc.com/news/technology-32067158

[3] www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/aug/16/childre-nature-outside-play-health