UAE | Leisure

Six out of 10 UAE children play alone — study

Need for more play areas, community centres, and opportunities to interact stressed

  • By Janice Ponce de Leon, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 21:30 November 20, 2012
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News
  • The research involved 400 family respondents of different nationalities and particularly focused on the play behaviour of their children of ages two to 12. Picture used for illustrative purposes only.

Dubai: 62 per cent, or roughly six out of 10 of UAE children play alone which could potentially negatively affect their development, a new UAE study revealed.

The study titled Children’s Play Index in the UAE aims to gauge if UAE children have a good balance between play and other activities. It was independently conducted in between July to September 2012 by TNS Research Agency and commissioned by family leisure company Fun City. The study was released on the occasion of the Universal Children’s Day that is celebrated annually on November 20.

The research involved 400 family respondents of different nationalities and particularly focused on the play behaviour of their children from ages two to 12.

“What we see from the research is there is an over emphasis on [children] playing alone which is probably driven by expatriate communities that don’t have extended families or may not have a sense of community or the lack of places that enable families to gather and interact on a regular basis,” Dr Sandra Willis, Fun City’s Parenting Consultant, told Gulf News.

This alarming fact stresses the need and importance of primary socialisation for the child’s development and more facilities for play areas and community centres, Dr Willis said.

“Even from an early age, it’s very important to socialise and socialising through play is the ideal scenario. At the same token, you want children to have some space to drive their own play activity that’s called free child-driven play,” Dr Willis said.

With the transient nature of the community of Dubai, Dr Willis said that parents must instill in their children the ability to have resilience to cope and to diversify their friendship circle.

The study likewise revealed that with the UAE’s play index score at 32, children here have a good balance between play and other activities during their daily routine. But it points out to an imbalance between indoor versus outdoor, active versus passive play activities which need attention, Silvio Liedtke, COO of Landmark Leisure, said.

Based on the study, a large portion of Emirati and Arab children spend time playing indoors while 33 per cent of Asian expat children play outdoors. Western children are usually sent out to play sports.

The study also revealed that one out of four of UAE children spend an average of three hours per day on an activity involving interaction with technology such as watching TV, playing video and internet games. One in five kids watches TV for an average of over four hours daily. And one in 10 engage on technology toys on a daily basis which could potentially affect their eyes and ears, concentration and response to stress.

Liedtke said he will share the findings of the study with relevant authorities to come up with proper programmes to address the issues at hand.

Comments (9)

  1. Added 16:21 November 21, 2012

    this article is absolutly correct. in abu dhabi there is shortage of parks in new developing areas like mussafah, khalifa city etc.

    thom, abu dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 15:54 November 21, 2012

    i stay in bur dubai and have a 2 year old kid, there is hardly any park nearby to take him to play all we do is take him take him for a stroll with his pram,and the worst part is the people staring at you as if you have come from some other planet so please request the authorities to make a park for the kids to play

    uma, dubai, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 15:38 November 21, 2012

    I reside in Bur Dubai and also there is no space for or garden that families can relax or kids can play, you only see morning and evening walker walking around the graveyard just opposite the Al Rafa hospital on Kuwait street.

    C.P, Dubai, India

  4. Added 12:43 November 21, 2012

    Childhood is being lost in gadgets due to lack of opportunity to play together. How can they learn to make friends? Parents have a challenge to manage energy of the kids. Every child if given to play, will feel a lot more at ease.

    Param, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 12:43 November 21, 2012

    First give the children time to play. morning 6.30 to evening 3.30 is gone for school time, then homework projects exams after exams. Where do they have time to play? I have two children but they cannot play because of the pressure of studies everyday. I feel bad because today's grade 1 children are also under the burden of only studies.

    Anju, dubai, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 12:03 November 21, 2012

    I live in Khalifa A in Abu Dhabi and i feel sad when see huge construction and people whereas there are no parks for children to play.....Some villa owners have made their own small spaces outside villa for their children to play......UAE govt should provide as many parks as they can so our children go out and play......This is the need for healthy generations......

    Asif Mohammad, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 12:01 November 21, 2012

    Its Very True..I live in Mussfah, Abu Dhabi. Even though the population increased compared to last 3-5 years we ca not find any park or play area in Mussafah. The nearest parks in this location is in Um al Naar which is over crowded and poorly maintained.

    Santhosh, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  8. Added 10:09 November 21, 2012

    this is really sad, I lives in Sharjah, Al Nahda and there is barely any place for the kids to get togehter and play with each other. All we have in jungle of tall towers closely guarding each other and that's it. Schools are only fees oriented and most of them don't have any play ground for sports activities. There are simply no sports gymnasium or indoor play areas. Please my appeal to authorities do any thing other then football for the kids living in UAE

    AA, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  9. Added 09:55 November 21, 2012

    i am from karama, everyday there are 25 children playing football in the parking lot which is empty and i also play with them. this is next to a shopping centre. there is also a empty plot opposite a school which can be converted into a ground for the children to play safely, as there is no park or ground around that area. request the authorities to consider the same.

    bijuipe, dubai, United Arab Emirates

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