Why aren’t kids playing anymore?
Posted by Dean Holden at November 24th, 2013
by Julie Scanlon, 7 March 2012
A recent study found that 46% of kids don’t play every day. That’s a statistic that may be hard to understand for a generation of parents that grew up in an idyllic time – a time where play wasn’t something that needed to be measured or studied, you just went outside and played!
In just one generation we have gone from carefree days spent playing down the street or at the local park, when we wouldn’t come home until the street lights came on, to a generation of children who’s playtime is not only reducing but is also becoming more sedentary and structured.
The State of Play
To find out what kind of impact this change is having on play and the implications for successive generations, MILO commissioned an independent research agency to conduct an extensive survey across Australia and New Zealand. More than 2000 parents, grandparents and kids aged eight to 12 years old in Australia and New Zealand were asked about the role of active play in their lives.
97% of all parents and grandparents agreed that active play is an essential part of a child’s development. They understood that active play has physical, social and creative benefits and provides a platform for life skills. 72% of parents also said that they felt connected with their children through play and that it formed an important part of family bonding.
But many parents admitted that finding time for play was a struggle – 64% of parents said that they felt guilty that they don’t play with their children as often as they should. At the same time, 63% of kids would like to spend more time playing with their parents.
The Barriers to Active Play
The research suggests that there are certain barriers that are preventing active play:
41% of children said that they had too much homework or were too tired to make time to play
42% of parents say it’s hard to find time to play with their kids.
We live in a much busier, faster paced world than even our own parents did. Parents know that active play is important for their children but often it takes a back seat to homework, after school activities, chores and from the parent’s perspective, working and household chores. Finding time can be a challenge but the benefits of active play are huge.
An Over-reliance on Technology
23% of children report that they don’t have anyone to play with, often turning to electronic devices for play.
58% of parents believe children have forgotten how to amuse themselves without electronic devices.
With technology becoming more accessible in the home and even on the go, kids are spending more time on their virtual lives than on their physical ones. Encouraging kids to unplug, go outside and be creative can help them to find new ways to play. And the best way to encourage that is to venture outside with your kids!
38% of children say they’ve run out of ideas for play.
65% of parents and 74% of grandparents agree that their children don’t create their own play or games as much as they used to in their childhood.
One of the best things about being a kid is using your imagination! And even better is using it to make up games and create your own playtime favourites. But less and less children are using make-believe to invent their own play, instead leaving the creativity to game developers and TV shows. Take time out to show your children the games that you played as a child and play along with them as they develop their own ideas.
59% of parents believe it is not as safe for their children to play outside as it was for them.
As our planet’s population increases and our resources shrink, space to run around and play in is becoming more and more scarce. More housing also means smaller backyards. In New Zealand, we are blessed with lots of wide open spaces but it can still be difficult to find places that we consider are safe for our children. Strangers, crime and traffic are just some of the concerns that parents have when deciding whether to let their child visit the local park or walk to a friend’s house.
<While this article was funded by a drink company (MILO) via Kidspot New Zealand, (a company for kid related fun, activities, sports, and related trappings – helping businesses operating in kids related industries be more easily identified and contacted – with minimal advertising investment – thus growing their business at a faster, more profitable rate), the numbers are interesting. If you ask yourself the same questions presented here, what are your answers? – DH>