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Research ramps up screens vs play debate

by Fiona on January 25, 2019

17 January 2019 I API

A research report claims to show for the first time, a strong link between recreational screen time and children’s inactivity.

The report released by the Association of Play Industries – API Report 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 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. 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.

“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.

The API campaign is focussed on two main asks, calling upon the government to: issue an official recommendation of two hours discretionary screen time per day for children; and to invest in outdoor play provision, especially in deprived areas, to reverse the decline in playgrounds.


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