Children like nothing more than playing in the mud, climbing trees and exploring the great outdoors.

But in the last 30 years or more the popularity of computer games and parental worries over safety and “stranger danger” have drastically reduced the time children spend playing in parks, woods and fields.

According to a recent survey, three quarters of UK children spend less time outside than prison inmates — with the consequence that families are losing contact with nature.

Research has also shown children have a largely screen-based lifestyle, with just 21 per cent regularly playing outside compared with 71 per cent of their parents.

Now the Inspiring Scotland charity — set up to tackle social problems — is calling for a new drive to encourage parents to get their children playing outdoors.

Writing in The Herald, Celia Tennant, chief executive of Inspiring Scotland, said: “Children need to play outside. They want to and they don’t care if it’s wet or windy or snowing. It is us, the adults, who do. We don’t want our kids to catch a cold, get muddy or hurt themselves and we worry about strangers and road traffic. But children are stronger than we think and playing outside makes them tougher. They need exposed to the elements and they need to test themselves. If they don’t learn about risks and dangers, they will continue to be imperiled by them.”

Read more about the importance of children exploring the outdoors by Andrew Denholm at The Herald