Six out of 10 UAE children play alone — study

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

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.
09 Gulf News

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.


  • thom

    Nov 21, 2012 4:21

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

  • uma

    Nov 21, 2012 3:54

    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 tomake a park for the kids to play

  • C.P

    Nov 21, 2012 3:38

    I reside in Bur Dubai and also there is no space for or garden thatfamilies can relax or kids can play, you only see morning and eveningwalker walking around the graveyard just opposite the Al Rafa hospitalon Kuwait street.

  • Param

    Nov 21, 2012 12:43

    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.

  • Anju

    Nov 21, 2012 12:43

    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.

  • Asif Mohammad

    Nov 21, 2012 12:03

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

  • Santhosh

    Nov 21, 2012 12:01

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

  • AA

    Nov 21, 2012 10:09

    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 authoritiesdo any thing other then football for the kids living in UAE

  • bijuipe

    Nov 21, 2012 9:55

    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.

Latest Comment

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


21 November 2012 19:53jump to comments