It used to be an essential part of childhood. Whether on holiday or just a weekend outing, no family summer was complete without at least one trip to the seaside.
But while most of us have fond memories of paddling on the shore and playing in rock pools, almost a fifth of today’s children have not set foot on a UK beach.
And one youngster in four has never been swimming in the seas around Britain.
A Keep Britain Tidy survey of 2,000 parents revealed that 18 per cent of children have not visited a British beach. Families are mainly put off by the weather, followed by the cleanliness of the beach
The downing of buckets and spades is blamed by parents on bad weather, unclean water and concerns about dog mess. But it will be seen as a depressing sign of our times, after previous research found three-quarters of children spend less time outside than prison inmates.
A Keep Britain Tidy survey of 2,000 parents revealed that 18 per cent of children have not visited a British beach.
Families are mainly put off by the weather, followed by the cleanliness of the beach.
Two in five parents worry the water is not clean enough, with 38 per cent put off by litter.
Nearly half said they would leave a beach immediately if they saw litter and dog mess.
The findings follow the Daily Mail’s Great Plastic Pick Up last weekend, which saw thousands of volunteers set out to clean our beaches and other litter-strewn areas, with the event co-organised by Keep Britain Tidy.
Two in five parents worry the water is not clean enough, with 38 per cent put off by litter. Nearly half said they would leave a beach immediately if they saw litter and dog mess
Allison Ogden-Newton, the charity’s chief executive, said: ‘It’s sad that so many children have not experienced the joy of paddling and rock pooling on our wonderful beaches.
‘The great news is that our awards should reassure parents that they can take their children to safe, clean beaches with great facilities if they look for a Keep Britain Tidy Blue Flag or Seaside Award quality standard.
‘We should all value our glorious coastline and look after it so it isn’t ruined by plastic pollution and remains pristine for everyone to enjoy as nature intended.’
A survey in 2016 found children are turning their backs on traditional outdoor activities, with 55 per cent of under-sevens having never played conkers. The report, commissioned by Persil, said a third of children play in the open air for less than 30 minutes a day – half the recommended outdoor time for prisoners – with 18 per cent never playing outside.
Keep Britain Tidy gives Blue Flag and Seaside Awards to beaches to indicate that they are clean and safe. The 125 British beaches receiving accolades this year include Great Western in Newquay, Cornwall.
The South West is the cleanest region overall, having been awarded 26 Blue Flags and 50 Seaside Awards.