A new report published by the Youth Sports Trust has revealed that nearly 25% of children consider playing video games as a form of exercise.
Nearly 75% of young people have access to games consoles, and daily screen time eclipses activity time with young people averaging close to 3 hours per day using technology.
Amongst 11 year olds, 70% say they watch YouTube, 15% log into Facebook and 11% post on Instagram.
Ali Oliver, chief exec of the YST, says that the digital revolution presents opportunities and challenges with young people “potentially held hostage” to their handheld devices.
The trust has called for more PE and technology integration in schools, and the government has provided £300m in funding earmarked to “prioritising PE” and improving school sport.
Some 75% of the five to 16 year olds surveyed say they enjoy PE at school and two-thirds feel better after taking part in sport.
Edward Timpson, the Children’s Minister, is encouraged that the research shows millions of young people are enjoying PE lessons. “[PE] remains a government priority,” he said.
But the report says that there is “no resisting” the march of technology and in order to get children active a more holistic approach to PE is needed. It recommends one which “integrates technology and the delivery of a seamless, intuitive and digitally enhanced form of physical activity.”
Some believe there is a block in teachers using technology in lessons due to a lack of training or software comprehension. A college worker has described that some lecturers “just don’t want to know” about using animations or apps.
Others note that technology has been historically blamed as leading to sedentary lifestyles: books, radio, TV, video games and now smart devices face criticism despite it being difficult to pin-point their attributions to overall physical wellbeing.
One parent notes that it would not be difficult to create parental controls to deactivate devices remotely. “[The report] clearly signals that action is needed now to modernise approaches,” says Oliver.