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UAE kids spend 60% of their day indoors

Plea to switch ‘tablets for swing sets’ and ‘Netflix for net practice’, following Fun City’s eye-opener survey in the GCC

Image Credit: GN Archives/Ahmed Ramzan
A child playing video game at home. Picture for illustrative purpose only
XPRESS

Dubai: Children in the GCC, including the UAE, spend nearly 60 per cent of their day indoors, a survey conducted by family entertainment centre Fun City has found.

“As we become a tech-dependent global community, physical exercise and agility have taken a complete backseat. In a research set on a sample of 400 families in the GCC by Fun City, we found that an average of 59.6 per cent of the complete day of a child is spent exclusively indoors,” said Kunal Harisinghani, head of marketing for Fun City.

27.6% of time is spent watching TV or being online

He said there is a need for parents to transition away from the familiar fast-paced life to give children a break from the great indoors. And although it’s a task to get the kids to “switch tablets for swing sets and skip Netflix for net practice”, play time is vital for a wholesome childhood.

He said active kids have active minds. “It has been tested and proven that physical activity helps nurture the mind, and aids children to perform better at school. Mental agility is one of the most important reasons why children should play tactical games and learn through play. It has been found that 59 per cent of mothers in the GCC work between eight-30 hours in a week. About 56 per cent households in the region have children between the ages of six-12 years, a foundation time when children require a lot of mental as well as physical stimulation to excel at school.”

Biggest challenge

400 families were covered in the survey

Harisinghani said the biggest challenge with children stuck at home all day is that they can’t exhaust their mental and physical faculties through play, often staying absorbed in games online that require little to no movement. “Children in the GCC spend 27.6 per cent of their time watching TV and doing online-centric activities, and less than 25 per cent of a child’s time is spent outdoors or in physical activity. This takes a toll on the health of the child; not only do children stay dormant throughout the day, they feel less rested due to insomnia resulting either from lack of fatigue or the blue light from gadgets, and this turns into a downward vicious cycle of poor health.”

He said children spend only 8.5 per cent of their time socialising. A reason why extra-curricular activities are vital is not just for great grades, but because they help kids develop core life skills like teamwork and public speaking, as well as emotional skills like empathy and kindness.

8.5% of children's time in a day is spent socialising

He said activities and play outside of the home increase endorphins in the body.

“They cause a rush of warm, fuzzy happiness in the hearts of children. This is possibly the major reason to get kids off couches and into play areas. Friends, family and fun make the most remarkable childhood,” added Harisinghani.

YOU SPEAK

Why do you think children in the UAE don’t get to play as much as they need to outdoors?

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