New research shows for the first time a strong link between recreational screen time and children’s inactivity, with children choosing to spend hours indoors and on screens instead of playing outdoors. The report released by the Association of Play Industries (API) – A Movement for Movement – reveals that children have never moved so little and points to substantial evidence that screens are a key reason.
There appears to be a ‘rapid and dramatic’ change from outdoor to indoor time, with a 50 per cent increase in children’s discretionary screen time (DST) in less than a decade. By the age of eight, the average child will have spent one full year sitting in front of a screen.
The report’s author, Dr Aric Sigman, a health education lecturer and leading expert on the effects of recreational screen time on children, says action is urgently required. “This report confirms what most parents already know, that discretionary screen time is their children’s main activity.”
API Chair, Mark Hardy, says the report places extra responsibility on schools. “Children spend a huge proportion of their time in school and for many of them the exercise they are able to take during the school day will be their only opportunity for physical activity.
“Schools can have a central role in changing a culture of sedentary time to one which includes daily play and exercise. As Screen time is replacing outdoor activitychildren’s physical activity dwindles outside of school hours, the need for unstructured and outdoor play at school lunch and break times becomes even more important.
“Increasingly research supports the view that time spent playing outdoors in the school playground improves pupils’ classroom behaviours and academic performance. It’s therefore more important than ever to provide children with attractive and challenging school playgrounds where they can let off steam.”