Research recently undertaken by UK Active has revealed that 9 out of 10 parents blame tech for youth inactivity.
Some Facts & Figures
- Only half of seven-year-olds are meeting recommended physical activity guidelines of 60 minutes/day.
- 75% of the 1039 parents interviewed agreed that it is more difficult for parents today to encourage children to become physically active than for previous generations.
- 90% think technology is partly to blame.
- Around 10% of children start primary school obese.
- Only 9% of toddlers are meeting the chief medical officer’s activity guidelines.
- Just 47% of those in the study think there are enough affordable opportunities for children to be active in their local area during school holidays
As a parent myself I understand the daily battle between over ‘screen time’. I think my kids are pretty active. They all walk to school, they take part in as much sport as possible in and out of school, we get out as a family and enjoy ‘active time’ and they have a garden to play in. My older 2 also share my slight FitBit Activity tracker obsession (and love a bit of healthy competition!) and I was shocked by how little ‘physical activity’ they actually do some days, despite doing all the above.
It has made me think about the very common scenario or typical day of being driven to school and dropped off at the gate, the limited PE provided in schools, wet break (so no opportunity to move around at playtime), being driven home again for an evening sat in front of the TV/playing computer games/doing homework.
It does take investment by parents nowadays to encourage and promote physical activity. But I don’t think it’s purely technology at blame. Many families have working parents who are stretched to their limits too and time resources are scarce. We rely on our cars far too much, so we’re less likely to have physical activity like walking, scooting or cycling built into our daily routine. School sport and PE (in my personal experience) can be pretty shocking! It’s certainly not inspiring for those who aren’t naturally drawn to sport. Organised sports can be expensive and time consuming and not always accessible for everyone. Plus, screen time is often the easy option – when we lead busy lives as working parents, a few hours of quiet time can be bliss!
However, as another report published last year by UK Active highlights, Generation Inactive, inactivity is a ticking tome bomb for the NHS. Just like we want the best for our children in terms of education, nutrition, happiness etc. helping them be physically active is fundamental. We (parents & schools) have to be teaching our children healthy habits for life.
Getting kids active
- Walk whenever you can – if you find yourself with a bit of extra time, build walking into your day. Seize every opportunity!
- Take advantage of nature – parks, country parks, beaches…they’re all free to access (apart from parking charges often!) and great for getting kids of all ages active.
- Arrange to meet friends in an open space for some semi-organised sports, take a ball, rounders, cricket. Once they get going, the kids often take the lead and parents can catch up with others from the sidelines!
- Take advantage of regular free organised activities in the area like SkyRide or Junior Parkrun. There are also many free sporting activities around in the school holidays. Locally for example, Arsenal Football Club run free coaching sessions in the holidays and in the summer Eastleigh run a great Park Sport scheme.
- Encourage kids to try something new. Many sports clubs offer free tasters. Try something different or not necessarily mainstream, you may be surprised by what they enjoy.
- Involve kids in household chores – hoovering, helping in the garden, washing the car. They’re all physical activities, it doesn’t have to be sport.
- Set a good example. If they see you being active, enjoying investing in your body by walking or exercising, it will be seen as a positive lifestyle choice.
With the cost of games consoles and games these days, how can it not be possible to find a cheaper alternative to be active?!