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Say, Say, 'Yes' to Play!

“Indian kids now spend less time than adults on physical activities: Survey,” reported a Business Standard article. An average of 86 minutes against the recommended 420 minutes. If that doesn’t make you want to read further, I should think you are blissfully unaware of how harmful these stats are. 

That headline is the conclusion of a PUMA-Nielsen sports survey that found out that Indian kids, on average, spend at least 5 hours less than what is required on sports and fitness-related activities, as suggested by the World Health Organization (WHO). The adults aren’t faring too well (an average of 101 minutes against the minimum of 150 minutes per week as recommended by WHO). But that is for another time.

Take a look at the image attached of a study in the US.

As you can see, keeping aside sleep and their daily essential activities/chores, a major chunk of a child’s time goes to school. Add to that the share of ‘enrichment activities’ that the study defines as those additional and extracurricular activities [MS1] meant to directly foster the child’s cognitive skills. This leaves them with 10.5% of their time for passive leisure where they majorly chill by watching television, and other media, and just 7.4% for play and other social activities.

Now, those stats apply to the US, but don’t you know at least five children who wake up every morning, go to school, come back, and go to their tuition directly before they chill for the day in your neighbourhood?

Coming to the topic of leisure time, as per a report by the Local Circles, the children of 61% of urban Indian parents spend an average of 3 hours or more each day on social media. But even younger kids spend quite some time on screen. That’s 53 minutes at 12 months, and150 months at three years.

So basically, it boils down to this: Too much-structured schedules for children and too much on-screen time.

But Why are these issues?

Because unstructured time helps kids build on their abilities to self-direct and improve their social and emotional skills leading to better self-regulation as adults.

Because Playtime is not just about having fun, but play is a form of learning for the child. It is their job, if I may say so.

Because sports aren’t a distraction or digression from academics, it is a necessity.

Because physical activity is known to increase the overall functioning of a child and improve their performance in academics as well.

Because reading is known to improve a child’s language skills, and tv time does the opposite

Because socialising and family time reduce behaviour problems in children.

Because excessive screen time has led to excessive problems like sleep disturbances, obesity, depression, and anxiety.

Because being too much online is being off on their socio-emotional development.

Because play is not a waste of time.


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