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Parents worry about too much screen time... and not enough outdoor play: Gallup Survey

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Just one in five Australian parents (23%) strongly agree it’s good for children to have to figure out how to entertain themselves from time to time… without the aid of an electronic device or a structured extracurricular activity.That’s the takeaway finding from research by Gallup and toymaker Melissa & Doug.

According to 1000 Australian parents surveyed, Australian children between the ages of 2 and 10 spend 18 hours a week on screens, while they only spend 15 hours engaging in indoor screen-free play and nine hours playing outdoors.

Study after study has shown the value of indoor screen-free and outdoor play, so why don’t Australian children do more of it? According to the survey, their parents don’t think it instills the qualities they want – self-confidence, social skills and academic skills – and they say their children prefer to play with or watch electronic devices.

The Report Time to Play – A study on children's free time: How it is spent, prioritised and valued is the second in a series of studies on children's play. The first report released on 1 August centred on the view and experiences of US parents. Broadly speaking, the views of British, Canadian and Australian patents about the rolr of play in the lives of their children are similar to those of US parents.

Few of the parents surveyed fully embrace the idea that occasional boredom is beneficial for children. About one in five parents in these countries strongly agree it is good for chidldren to be bored now and then.

When their child is bored, parents surveyed most frequently first responded by intervening. About 40% of Australian parents say their first strategy is to tell them about different attitudes they might do, with 27% stating that the let their child confront boredom on their own.

While 42% of parents would prefer that their children spend more time on outside play, and the majority of parents surveyed harbour concerns related to screen time, when children are indoors, screen-based play edges out child-led play.

Children aged between 2–10 years average free-time hours per week were reported to be 18.9 hours screen-based; 15.8 hoursindoor screen-free play; 8.9 hours outside play; 9.3 hours doing things with parents; 6.3 hours of structured time; and 3.2 hours on homework.


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