"It is clear that small screens have been accompanied by a drop in traditional play" said child health education specialist Dr Sigman.

Make Time 2 Play research claims children spend too much time in virtual reality

New research for the BTHA’s Make Time 2 Play campaign has claimed that children are spending too much time playing in the virtual world and not enough in reality.

The results tested parents’ perceptions of play, alongside a report commissioned by MT2P and written by child health education specialist, Dr Aric Sigman.

The report entitled ‘Play: it’s in their DNA’ highlights the vital importance of real world play for the development of children and calls for play to be recognised as more than just fun entertainment.

In a survey of 2,000 UK parents, one third say their children’s idea of play is using recreational technology over traditional play. Of those asked, seven in ten parents admit to giving their child a screen entertainment based activity, with 20 per cent even believing too much traditional or outdoor play could impact negatively on behaviour or grades.

The survey revealed 56 per cent of parents use entertainment screen-based play to cure boredom, but a 77 per cent say the reason they rely on high amounts of recreational screen time comes down to their belief in the educational and learning benefits.

In contrast, Dr Sigman’s report shows traditional forms of play, both indoors and outdoors, have hidden benefits; including improved behaviour, increased abilities to concentrate and even better school grades.

"It is clear that small screens have been accompanied by a drop in traditional play," commented Dr Sigman.

"The survey of parents shows perceptions of playtime are shifting to include entertainment screen time to the detriment of real world play."

Dr Sigman’s report recommends that parents limit entertainment screen time and balance activities through the week to give children the opportunity to experience real world play, particularly as children go back to school and extra curricular activities and time pressures increase in term time.

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