GROWING up in a North Yorkshire village, when I was not at school I was out playing with friends.

And by playing, I don’t mean indoors at their homes, or even in their gardens. We were out and about, roaming around the neighbourhood or heading off across the countryside on proper adventures.

Sometimes we would climb the hills at the back of our homes and look down on the village, trying to pick out our houses.

From quite an early age we explored well beyond the confines of our village, getting into all sorts of scrapes.

My parents still live in the house I grew up in and if, on my frequent visits, I ever see old friends, we always reminisce about our escapades: “Do you remember when we were scrumping and that man chased us with a pitch fork?” one will ask, or “What about the time we got stuck in the roof on that building site?”

We had so much fun. We went out in almost all weathers and hated days when it was far too wet. We would would sit inside, bored, until it cleared up - then there would be the familiar knock at the door: “Hello Mrs Mead, is your Helen coming out?”

We did not have the distraction of modern technology to keep us indoors, Back then the only rival to outdoor play was the TV. Saturday morning’s Swap Shop with Noel Edmonds was a must-see, but apart from that there was nothing to keep us inside.

On long school holidays such as the Easter and summer break, our parents would rarely see us.

The benefits of outdoor play are well-documented, and now research has revealed that children behave better after 30 minutes of outdoor play, with 64 per cent of parents feeling that technology is being overused in the home.

Parents have reported improved eating, sleeping and general happiness when their children get out in the fresh air.

The survey of 1,152 UK parents by outdoor living company Alfresia found that almost half found it considerably easier to get their children to go to bed following an activity in the fresh air. A quarter stated that their kids enjoyed playing outside so much that they struggled to get them to come back in. This clearly refers to very young children, but the principle is the same.

Yet three out of four kids spend less time outdoors than prison inmates. It is recommended that prisoners spend an hour outside each day yet a third of children play in the open air for less than half that every day. The Play In Balance report by Persil’s Dirt Is Good campaign revealed that youngsters are missing out on adventurous play. It found that 74 per cent of children spend less than an hour a day playing outdoors, while 18 per cent never play outside at all.

Nowadays computer games and social media prevent children from toddlers to teens from setting foot outdoors.

But such behavior is not confined to kids - many adults, whose habits filter down to children, spend their days cooped up indoors, plugged into phones, iPads, video games and other electronic devices.

It is as if people are allergic to the outdoors, yet nothing is nicer than being outside in the fresh air, enjoying the changing seasons, and - crucially - getting some exercise.

I was reluctant to go out in the pouring rain on Bank Holiday Saturday, but my family persuaded me, and we had a wonderful day in Scarborough, eating ice creams on a freezing seafront and watching giant waves lash the promenade.

Any opportunity to get out, even for half an hour, should be grabbed with open arms.