By FIONA MACRAE
Last updated at 23:09 23 May 2007
Forget computer games, television shows and DVDs, children derive the most fun from playing outdoors, research shows.
Scientists have revealed that while staring at a screen may seem tempting, our happiest childhood memories revolve around more simple pleasures, such as building sandcastles and making daisy chains.
Kite flying, rock-pooling and other low-tech outdoor activities are also vividly recalled.
By contrast, TVs, computers and other electronic gadgets barely feature in our treasure trove of childhood memories.
Researcher Dr David Lewis said that the findings suggest that modern-day children are in danger of missing out on some of the finest life experiences.
The warning comes amid fears that technology is creating a generation of lonely children who struggle to make friends.
Lack of exercise is also a key factor behind soaring levels of obesity, with the average youngster spending almost nine and a half hours a week slumped in front of a TV or playing video games - and less than half an hour a day on exercise.
Experts say that unless the Government acts now, an entire generation faces an old age blighted by heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other diseases brought on by obesity.
The latest research used hypnosis to take a group of young mothers back to their childhood.
Once in a trance, the women, who were wired up to heart monitors and gadgets capable of measuring changes in sweat levels, were asked to describe their happiest moments from when they were aged six or seven.
All ten of the women who took part in the survey, commissioned by Anchor butter, described times when they had played outdoors with friends and families.
None chose solitary indoor activities, such as watching TV or playing electronic games, said Dr Lewis, a neuropsychologist.
He said: "The mums rediscovered the uninhibited child within, with some crying from happiness as they recalled simple family activities, from building sand castles at the seaside to flying a kite in the park, as their most cherished childhood memories.
"Clearly when it comes to producing enjoyable and enduring childhood memories, there's no such thing as the great indoors."
A survey of 500 mothers, conducted as part of the same research, found that nine in ten thought today's children are missing out on a carefree youth.
Dr Lewis, of private research firm the Mind Lab, said: "I do think parents think their children are too sophisticated to enjoying picking buttercups or flying kites, even if they are just five or six.
"But all the evidence is that they would love to do that.
"If the weather is nice, get out in to the countryside and do something simple. It doesn't have to have a microchip in it to be fun."
Lorraine Crowe (CORR), of Anchor, said: "By now and again swapping the Wii for a tree, mums and their kids can rediscover that 'land of lost content' together."