Screens get in the way of playing

New research has found that 59 per cent of parents think screens are getting in the way of children being active, with one in five parents saying their children prefer playing E-sports to physical sports and a third saying that their children prefer playing online games to playing either indoors or outdoors.

The survey of 1000 adults in the UK which was undertaken by Censuswide and commissioned by Create, found that:

  • A third of parents noticed their children’s activity levels dropped after having access to a smartphone or tablet.
  • 44 per cent of parents are worried about the effect that too much screen time will have on their children’s physical health.
  • A third of parents find it hard to control how much screen time their children are spending, and this rises to 63 per cent of parents of primary school aged children.

The research also shows that over a third of parents of primary school aged children believe their children are safer playing online games than playing outside, which may be discouraging parents from supporting their children to develop more active routines.

Commenting on the results, Create believes that with childhood obesity being an ever-increasing problem in the UK, both schools and families must be better supported to engage children in physical exercise from an early age in order to boost their holistic development.

Ronnie Heath, Managing Director at Create Development, said:

"Many parents are concerned that their children’s increasing use of screens is becoming ingrained and worry about how to engage and encourage their children to take part in and enjoy physical activity. At Create Development, we are committed to supporting schools and families to build fun, active lifestyles and to providing them with the tools necessary to spark a lifelong love of physical activity in EVERY child.

PE and Sport is a fantastic vehicle not only to improve health and fitness but also to develop a range of personal, social, physical, cognitive and creative abilities, and it is important that these abilities are harnessed from a young age. Through simple activities and games, physical activity can easily be built into children’s daily routine."

A parent at Gaskell Community Primary School in Bolton said:

real play has changed the way I play with my children and this has made our relationship better and closer.”

Lisa Houghton, Headteacher at Sholing Infant School in Southampton said:

“At Sholing Infant School, we are passionate about providing an open and inclusive environment for our PE lessons that allows pupils to develop confidence, resilience, their social skills, learn to work as a team, in addition to establishing fundamental movement skills…

“Ensuring children grow up being happy, active and healthy is a vital part of the support that schools provide, and it is clear we must do more to engage our pupils in physical activity. We have a responsibility to show the sustainable impact that the PE and Sport Premium has made and ultimately ensure children enjoy PE lessons from an early age to continue to enjoy being active throughout their lives.”

Mark Hunter MBE, Olympic and World Rowing Champion and Create Ambassador said:

“It’s so important for children to be active, fit and healthy. We all face challenges in life and integrating some form of exercise or activity into our lifestyle really helps and can support not only our physical health but also our mental health and wellbeing. The chemicals that are released into our body when we exercise, help us feel happy, excited and better emotionally. The Create Development approach really focuses on the whole child. It’s not just based on physical skills, but about having fun, developing broader skills and developing a love of being active from a young age.”

Click here to find out more about real play and how families can be supported through the power of play.