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Study finds children’s screen time has replaced outdoor play

A report by the Association of Play Industries (API) reveals that children have never moved so little and points to substantial evidence that screens are a key reason. In fact, by the age of eight, the average child will have spent one full year sitting in front of a screen.

The report, API Report A Movement for Movement was released by the Association of Play Industries. It shows a strong link between recreational screen time and children’s inactivity, with children choosing to spend hours indoors and on screens instead of playing outside. There report states there has been a 50 per cent increase in children’s discretionary screen time (DST) in less than a decade.

The report has inspired a new campaign that calls upon the UK government to issue an official recommendation of two hours discretionary screen time per day for children and to invest in outdoor play provision. The report’s author, Dr Aric Sigman, says, “This report confirms what most parents already know, that discretionary screen time is their children’s main activity. Whether it’s watching TV, playing games on laptops and iPads or spending time on social media, recreational screen time is occupying hours of their day, and has replaced outdoor play.”

Continuing he added, “parents are looking for support and guidance on how to go back-to-basics to limit discretionary screen time and get their children outdoors and playing again. The introduction of a two-hour limit for daily recreational screen time will offer specific advice to parents and with the support of government, we can start to tackle the increasing screen time issue.”

The Association of Play Industries Chair, Mark Hardy, says: “Unless the government takes steps to help parents reduce children’s discretionary screen time, current attempts to tackle childhood obesity and poor mental health are likely to fail. At the same time, we also need urgent investment in free-to-use outdoor play facilities, particularly in deprived areas where such facilities can have the greatest impact. Our recent Nowhere To Play report highlights the alarming decline in playgrounds in recent years.”

To read the report in full click here.

Author: Julia Zvobgo

Julia Zvobgo is a Cultural Anthropologist and the Community Manager of Child in the City.

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