New Delhi: Children chasing one another in parks and playgrounds or playing outdoor games is a sight now rarely seen due to academic pressure and the lure of video games, say experts, warning of the dangers of neglecting physical activity.
"Play Life", quantitative research commissioned by Nickelodeon channel and conducted by Hansa Research Pvt Ltd, revealed that only 25 percent children play outdoor games on a daily basis while a whopping 39 percent are not active in outdoor play at all.
Nina Elavia Jaipuria, the senior vice president and general manager of Nickelodeon India, said the results of the study had left them dumbstruck.
"It has been an eye-opener and has thrown up some startling insights. Outdoor play is clearly deprioritised in a kid`s life today. It is a wake- up call for children, parents and schools too," Jaipuria told said.
The rising trend of video games, other than academic pressure by schools and parents, is to be blamed, she said.
"Entertainment mediums are so many that children are opting for comfort. Video games like playstations and online games interest them more than to shed sweat in community parks," Jaipuria said.
Samir Parikh, a consultant psychiatrist with Max Healthcare, said: "It is disheartening but it is an obvious change that is clearly visible in every home. The social change that has taken place of giving importance to video games and activities has become the major reason for this."
"The time spent in school has increased, the time spent in academics has increased - extra classes have become a routine for schools," Parikh said.
According to experts, a lack of physical activity can lead to a lot of psychological and health problems like obesity. Children who do not spend enough time playing outdoors are also typically deprived of social interactions and natural stimulation.
Playing outside is one of the best ways to boost self-esteem in young children and qualities of leadership and cooperation may also begin to emerge, the experts say. Children who play outside for an average of 90 minutes per day in good weather have less risk of heart trouble later in life.
According to the findings of the survey, of the 75 percent of the children who do not play outdoors on a daily basis, in the case of over half (38 percent), it was the parents who did not allow them to play.
"Parental restriction is one of the biggest reasons for an inactive, non-playing generation. Our research shows an alarming 38 percent of parents don`t poke them to go out and play due to various reasons," said Jaipuria.
"The aspect which has suddenly brought in a major change is the way parents and children have started giving priority to academics over sports, which they are forgetting plays also an equal and integral part in the overall growth of the kids," Parikh added.
Seema Gupta, the mother of a 13-year-old, admitted that academic pressure was coming in the way of children playing.
"In our time, our parents used to force us to go out and play, but now it has changed. It is not that we want to deliberately make our child sit at home with books all around," she said.
"One of the reasons is the pressure put on children by the academic curriculum. Secondly they prefer indoor games like the playstation or would rather watch television. And also, with so much stress, they lose energy and like to sit back at home and relax rather than going out and raising sweat," Gupta pointed out.