Research finds Children would rather build dens in the garden and have water fights than go on expensive outings to theme parks.
By James Hall, Consumer Affairs Editor
6:00AM BST 17 Aug, 2012
While parents shell out an average of £183 per child on day trips over the course of a six-week summer holiday, their children would be happier doing simple and free activities such as playing with friends or going for bike rides.
The findings are in a survey by the supermarket chain Sainsbury’s, which asked 1,500 children aged between 5 and 11 to rank their favourite summer-time activities in order of preference.
Playing in the park or in the garden was ranked as the top pastime. Mud pie-making, tree-climbing and feeding the ducks also came in the top ten.
The first activity that would cost children’s parents money was named as going to the cinema, which was the 12th most popular pastime and came after planting flowers and picking berries.
Psychologists said the survey proved that children enjoy simple outdoor pleasures more than organised trips, which often involve hours in the car. Meanwhile parents admitted they spend so much on activities because they feel guilty that their children might get bored.
Youngsters even said that they prefer flying kites and playing in a paddling pool to going to the zoo. Surprisingly, playing on a computer was ranked as one of the least favourite summer activities.
Dr Linda Papadopoulos, a child psychologist, said: “While parents are busy spending money on costly activities to ensure their kids have a good summer, children mostly value the simple pleasures that summer brings. In terms of pleasure per penny, it’s the everyday outdoor fun which takes little time or money to organise that far outweighs the more orchestrated expensive excursions.”
Almost half of the children said they preferred playing in familiar places such as the back garden or local park than places they have not been to before.
The supermarket also questioned 2,000 parents as part of its Kids’ Simple Pleasures Per Penny Index. Parents said that they book at least one day trip or paid-for excursion per week over the six-week summer holiday, spending an average of £183 per child per holiday.
A third of parents said that they organised weekly trips to make their lives easier over the holiday period.
Four in ten adults said they had increased their spending on holiday excursions compared with last year despite the economic downturn.
Despite spending so much on their children, seven in 10 parents admitted that their most cherished childhood memories involved playing with friends or having “simple” fun in the garden.
Dr Papadopoulos said: “Summer memories last us a lifetime and parents can learn a lot from what their children have told us in this study.”
A Sainsbury’s spokesman said: “The summer holidays can be particularly expensive, especially for families, but it doesn’t have to be a burden if we take the lead from our youngsters and reappraise the value of the simple everyday pleasures loved by all.”