Kids forgo trees for tech toys

08:30 AEST Mon Mar 12 2012
A survey finds many kids are opting for television and computer games over playing outdoors (ThinkStock)
A survey finds many kids are opting for television and computer games over playing outdoors (ThinkStock)

Kiwi kids appear to be ditching play in favour of technology according to a new study.

The study, which looked into the play habits of New Zealand children aged between eight and 12, found almost half did not play every day.

It also found that 44 per cent of them spent their free time either watching TV, playing video games or on other electronic devices rather than active, adventurous play such as climbing trees.

Grant Schofield, director of the centre for physical activity and nutrition at AUT, says the lack of daily play in kids needs to be addressed.

"Plugged playtime has become the default activity, displacing active unstructured play with friends and family.

"The children of New Zealand today are more likely to remember their carefree days watching TV, playing video games and basically just being sedentary."

Dr Schofield says active, unstructured play was critical in the development of children, playing a big part in helping the brain develop.

"It is a time where future social skills are shaped and foundations for strong relationships with parents, grandparents and friends are created," says Dr Schofield.

The report found that 46 per cent of kids were not playing every day and a majority were wanting to spend more time playing with their parents.

"Kids don't need to be taught how to do it. All they need is to be in an environment that is socially supportive of it.

"Children haven't forgotten how to play, they just need some encouragement from the people they rely on and trust the most - their family."

An online survey, commissioned by Milo, last November was used to come to the study's conclusions. The habits of 168 children in the age group, as well as the views of 406 parents and 152 grandparents were recorded.

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