9 in 10 parents blame tech for youth inactivity, says ukactive research
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9 in 10 parents blame tech for youth inactivity, says ukactive research

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ukactive has called for a major rethink of how children are engaged with physical activity, after new research found almost nine in ten UK parents feel tablets and smartphones are adding to Britain’s youth inactivity crisis.

Ahead of the Easter holidays – when many more children are expected to play on screens than in the great outdoors – ukactive has suggested that the funding raised from the sugar tax levy announced in last week’s budget should be partly used to help families get active together during the school holidays.

Pointing to the new research – in addition to its recent Generation Inactive report which warned that children’s sedentary lifestyles are a ‘ticking time-bomb’ for the NHS – ukactive is citing excess screen time as a major cause of youth inactivity. The latest poll of 1,039 parents, conducted by ComRes, found 75 per cent of parents agree that it is more difficult for parents today to encourage children to become physically active than for previous generations.

As a result, ukactive is urging the government and technology companies to incentivise and reward developers who are creating technology which can get children moving.

“It’s now much easier to hand kids the ipad or buy an Xbox game than build active habits,” said ukactive research director Dr Steven Mann.

"Parents are facing a completely new challenge here so we need to think about how to support families with the right information and practical tips. This survey shows that parents see technology as a big barrier to exercise so we need to see some leadership from government and the technology sector, as well as activity providers, to improve the picture."

Youth inactivity is on the rise, with government data showing just nine per cent of toddlers are meeting the chief medical officer’s activity guidelines and ten per cent of children start primary school obese.

In a bid to turn this tide, ukactive’s latest policy calls include recommendations for physical activity guidance to be given to new parents on the maternity ward, while experts would also like to see clearer advice on how to structure child’s play.

"Giving children a balanced play diet is almost as beneficial for their development as a balanced nutritional diet,” said Dr Amanda Gummer, founder of Fundamentally Children.

"Getting children playing actively with friends is like giving them the fruit and veg of the diet - it’s difficult to overdo them. Solitary screen time is more of the sweets and crisps of the diet - ok in small doses but needs balancing out with generous helpings of the healthy stuff.”

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ukactive has called for a major rethink of how children are engaged with physical activity, after new research found almost nine in ten UK parents feel tablets and smartphones are adding to Britain’s youth inactivity crisis.
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