Nearly a quarter of young people believe that playing a computer game constitutes a form of exercise, according to a study released today which warns that children are becoming “hostages” to handheld devices.
The research, published by the Youth Sport Trust, raises serious concerns about the physical fitness of today’s young people. It says that PE and school sport are at a “critical crossroads” in terms of ensuring children’s mental and physical well-being.
As part of its report, the charity surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,000 five- to 16-year-olds, which revealed that 23 per cent felt that playing a video game was a form of exercise.
The poll also found that 35 per cent of the respondents spent more time speaking to their friends via social media than they did face-to-face. The accompanying report warns that young people are becoming “disengaged” from physical activity.
The study, entitled The Class of 2035: promoting a brighter and more active future for the youth of tomorrow, urges schools to utilise technology in their approach to delivering PE and sport to ensure that the next generation remains active.
YST chief executive Ali Oliver warned that too many young people were at risk of living their lives “devoted to technology” and were effectively “hostages to handheld devices”.
“This report clearly signals that action is needed now to modernise the approach to PE and school sport and in doing so, guarantee the best possible future for generations to come,” Ms Oliver said.
“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.”
The study found that 40 per cent of respondents wanted to do more exercise and 75 per cent said they enjoyed doing PE and sport in school.
The government has committed £300 million over two years to deliver PE and sport in primary schools in the form of the primary sport premium. Children’s minister Edward Timpson said research had shown that the investment was already improving PE and sport.
“We want to encourage all young people to get into the healthy habit of playing and enjoying sport – both inside and outside school – which is why PE remains a government priority,” he added.