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Use children’s phones to get them exercising, says new report

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The screens and handheld devices that today’s youngsters are ‘hostages’ to should be harnessed as tools to modernise PE and increase physical activity, suggests a new report.

The report, conducted for the Youth Sport Trust by the Future Foundation to mark the charity's 20th anniversary and National School Sport Week, provides a unique insight into young people's relationship with physical activity today and 20 years from now.

It warns that PE and school sport are at a critical crossroads and the subject should remain a key priority to avoid a physically and socially disengaged future generation, over dependent on technology, which will result in low physical, social and emotional wellbeing.

The rise in technology was at the core of the findings, however, the report also highlights how the 'digital revolution' can be used to better PE and school sport, empowering young people to take responsibility for their own activity levels. The Youth Sport Trust is currently considering how best to support schools to embrace technology further through its network of PE and school sport advocates, ambassadors, and professionals.

"If we are to avoid a future whereby young people are disengaged from physical activity, living increasingly sedentary lifestyles, we must recognise their needs today, working with Government and partners within the education, sport and health sectors to improve opportunities for young people through PE and school sport,” said Youth Sport Trust CEO Ali Oliver.

"Government investment through the PE and Sport Premium in recent years has helped to improve the physical literacy of young people and has laid some strong foundations to ensure a more physically active nation in the future. The challenge is to maintain these gains as children become more engaged with digital technology.”

The report, which found that young people who described themselves as 'always happy' are twice as likely to take part in two or more hours of physical activity per day, and three times as likely to be a member of a school sports club, adds to the growing debate around child activity levels.

Research released last week from Essex University showed fitness levels among English schoolchildren are lower than ever and still getting worse.

Meanwhile, ukactive made major headlines recently with its Generation Inactive report, which showed only half of seven-year-olds are meeting recommended physical activity guidelines of 60 minutes per day. The report warned that children will remain a ‘ticking time-bomb’ for the NHS if decisive action is not taken, and called for primary schools to test pupils’ fitness in the same way as subjects like Maths and English to ensure children are meeting basic guidelines.

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The screens and handheld devices that today’s youngsters are ‘hostages’ to should be harnessed as tools to modernise PE and increase physical activity, suggests a new report.
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