It seems that we may be raising a generation of lazy kids that are being held back at school because their sedentary lifestyle has left them lacking basic physical skills. A study has shown that children as young as five are struggling to do simple physical tasks such as balancing on one leg or even crawling.
Children these days seem to spending more time sitting down in a pram or being put in front of a TV or screen instead of being encouraged to walk, run and play. The study found those children who struggle with basic physical exercises are significantly more likely to fall behind academically.
The study was conducted with sixty children in a reception class at a school in the West Midlands. They were given 14 short tests, including asking them to balance on one leg for three seconds and crawl a short distance.
The study found 30 per cent of pupils showed signs of physical immaturity and a further 42 per cent some signs of delays in development.
Some children even appeared not to have lost primitive baby reflexes, such as their arms and head extending when their head moves to the side.
The study, carried out by former primary headmaster Pete Griffin in conjunction with the Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology in Chester, found that of pupils in the bottom half of the group for physical maturity, 77 per cent were in the lowest two groups for academic ability.
Mr Griffin said: ‘The main issue is that children don’t have the same kind of physical challenge and upbringing they might have had 40 or 50 years ago. Children are strapped into travel systems and are not physically picked up as much. I don’t see family members throwing their babies up into the air as much. We do less of that. Babies also spend less time on the floor learning to roll and crawl, he said. There’s less opportunity to climb, to roll, to jump. In these safety-conscious times, parents will stop their children walking along a wall in case they fall.
The increase in screen-based entertainment was likely to be having a ‘dramatic effect’, both because it led to sedentary lifestyles and stunted concentration.
‘There’s less creativity involved in playing on the screen or watching TV,’ he said.
‘TV comes in very small bites so children are not used to concentrating for long periods, video games move from one stimulus to another very rapidly.’
This was likely to have an effect on children’s ability to concentrate in the classroom, he warned.
What do you think of these findings? Do children spend too much time in front of screens these days?
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