In previous years the API has carried out vital research into the state of play and play provision in the UK. This time, they have joined forces with Mumsnet to survey 1111 parents with children between 2 and 12 years old.
They found that 69% of parents of 10-12-year-olds said their children preferred screen time over other activities such as more traditional outdoor play.
This said, 9 of 10 parents who did not live close to a playground believed having access to a play area would make their children play outside more. This was supported by parents who do have access to a playground, with 61% believing it made their children play outside more often.
“Children are being ‘pulled’ indoors by screens and ‘pushed’ away from outdoor play because of the alarming and continued decline in public playgrounds,” said Mark Hardy, API Chair.
“The overwhelming majority of UK children live in urban areas. For these children, and particularly those in the most disadvantaged areas, public playgrounds are their only chance for outdoor play.
We are in danger of leaving entire communities without anywhere for children to play. Couple this with the dominance of digital culture and the strong inducement it creates for children to stay indoors – inactive and alone for hours – children are facing a crisis with dire consequences for their mental and physical health.”
The association’s campaign – Play Must Stay – launched this month and is calling for urgent and sustained investment in public play provision.
“With ever-shrinking opportunities for children to play outdoors, public playgrounds play a crucial role in improving children’s movement levels and, in turn, their physical and mental health,” continued Mark.
“Playgrounds are not a luxury. They provide a uniquely safe, traffic-free environment in and around our towns and cities and for millions of children, they are essential to their current and future health. For policymakers, the funding of public playgrounds should be a priority because they are both prevention and cure; playgrounds fulfill a unique role in improving children’s movement, social interaction, fitness, and physical and mental health.
“As a resource to improve children’s health – through movement and outdoor play – the role of public playgrounds should not be under-estimated. For a relatively modest investment now the health of children could benefit greatly for years to come.”
Our Sales Director, Gary Hall, agreed, adding “outdoor play is a huge – and important – part of childhood, and more must be done to ensure future generations have the same opportunities that we did. Here at RTC we fully support the API and their work to highlight this issue.”