Charity calls for urgent action to address children’s health crisis
A children’s charity has warned that childhood inactivity and loneliness is on the verge of becoming a ‘new pandemic’ as new research reveals parents are increasingly worried their children are growing up spending too much time online and not enough time with friends or playing sport.
The research, commissioned by the Youth Sport Trust and conducted by YouGov, shows 83% of GB parents are concerned that children are spending too much time online and not enough time with one another. The findings also revealed that 80% of parents say that cuts to PE, sport and break times in school have a negative impact on young people’s wellbeing.
Today the Youth Sport Trust has launched its new long-term strategy ‘Inspiring Changemakers, Building Belonging’. It said it will be vital to inspire ‘changemakers’ the teachers, young people, organisations, families and influencers — who can reach a generation of young people to ensure that by 2035 all children grow up knowing how to balance the demands of the digital age. It wants every young person to learn in a healthy way what belonging really feels like, and for young people to have a positive personal identity which comes from play and sport.
Alison Oliver MBE, Chief Executive of the Youth Sport Trust, said:
“We are staring in the face of a ‘new pandemic’ of increasing rates of self-harm and children struggling in a digital age. Urgent action is needed.
“Children’s social and emotional wellbeing is in decline, and the findings today show there is a real concern from parents that their children are not getting enough play and sport. We know that unhappy, unhealthy children don't learn as effectively. If children don't learn we won't have a society fit for the future. When children play and are physically active, they are happy, healthy and achieve.
“There is compelling evidence for the case for more play and sport in children’s lives and pockets of inspiring practice, but more drastic change is needed, and we know we can’t do it alone. Today we begin a rallying call to inspire more changemakers on this mission. Daily physical activity, play and the development of physical literacy should be an integral part of every childhood.”
The research among UK parents of children aged 18 and under carried out by YouGov found:
- 83% of parents are concerned that children are spending too much time online and not enough time with one another
- 81% of parents are concerned that young people aren’t getting enough physical activity
- 80% of parents say that cuts to PE, sport and break times in school have a negative impact on young people’s wellbeing.
Over the next 13 years of its new strategy, the Youth Sport Trust will dramatically change its approach to support those most in need. Starting locally and building momentum, it will galvanise and inspire changemakers to transform attitudes, improve practice and drive policy change. The charity hopes that together the power of play and sport can be harnessed to build belonging for a generation, improving their health, fostering inclusion and developing character and leadership.
Schools, families and organisations can also start to take action by signing up to the Youth Sport Trust’s National School Sport Week campaign this summer.