Digital age sees change in childhood playing patterns

Just 48% of 13 to 15-year-olds play outside
Just 48% of 13 to 15-year-olds play outside

The number of teenagers who play outside, read books or get enough sleep has dropped dramatically on previous decades, a survey has found.

Just 48% of 13 to 15-year-olds play outside compared with 77% of 18 to 24-year-olds and 87% of 45 to 54-year-olds when they were that age, according to the study of changing childhoods in a digital world for the charity Barnardo's.

Barely half (54%) of young teenagers read books, in contrast with the 79% of adults aged over 18 who said they did when they were younger, while just half (50%) of 13 to 15-year-olds say they get enough sleep compared with the 66% of adults who said they did when they were young teens.

The survey found access to the internet helps 75% of young teenagers to do their schoolwork, but also revealed that 25% of the age group said they had communicated with a stranger on social media.

Almost two fifths (38%) of 13 to 15-year-olds have never had a boyfriend or girlfriend compared with 33% of adults when that age.

The survey also revealed that young teenagers now are more likely than previous generations to confide in their parents, friends and teachers when they have a difficult or embarrassing issue.

More than three-quarters (77%) of young teens said they would talk to a parent, 67% to a friend and 23% to a teacher, compared with 36%, 52% and 11% respectively for adults when they were the same age.

And while 19% of adults would not have felt able to seek help when they were young teenagers, just 5% of those that age now said they would not ask for advice and support if they needed it.

The poll is part of a study by Barnardo's examining the "challenges and opportunities to children from the rapidly evolving technological world".

Barnardo's chief executive Javed Khan said: "This survey shows how quickly the growth of digital is changing our children's behaviour.

"Whilst it's fantastic that new technologies are broadening horizons and providing new opportunities, it's vital we stay ahead of the digital curve to anticipate the problems it poses to future generations.

"To help children thrive in this brave new world, we need to equip them with the skills and knowledge to navigate this digital landscape."

:: YouGov surveyed 2,186 adults and 171 children online between August 3-8.