Children have shown a clear desire to get away from screens this summer, a survey of north-east kids has shown.
Aberdeen City Council is analysing the views of nearly 2,000 parents and children who responded to a survey on ways to develop the local authority’s summer of play programme.
Children, young people and families were invited to share their views on what a summer of play should comprise by electronic survey in May.
The survey was open for one week, with 1,852 responses returned – 1,160 by parents and 692 by children.
Around two-thirds of parents said they felt all children had been impacted by events of the last 16 months, against 349 parents who felt their child had been disproportionately affected.
Some parents noted potential positive impacts of the pandemic, for example on the togetherness of families.
Almost all parents referenced the need for their child to be involved in group activity and have the opportunity to socialize over the summer holiday period.
Autistic children particularly affected
A common theme in responses from parents was an acknowledgment that the restrictions have impacted on their child’s general demeanour.
Many expressed concern that their child was now less likely to seek time away from the family home.
There were many references to the need for team activities to encourage children to re-engage and learn to work together again.
In a report of the survey results, the council stated: “It is clear that those impacted by poverty, those with disabilities and those impacted by shielding seem to have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
“Another common theme was a recognition that children in single child households had been more impacted than others.”
Those with Autistic Spectrum Disorder were also seen as particularly affected by the pandemic, along with those without easy access to green spaces.
Some families noted that their child continued to have to shield and therefore had had no contact with the outside world since March 2020.
‘No phones or laptops please’
Among children and young people responding to the survey, many wanted more activities to take part in.
Swimming was the most popular, with 395 children keen to see increased access to swimming pools.
This was followed by 364 who wanted more opportunities to play football.
Fun runs and dancing were other popular activities which kids were eager to have better access to.
Children’s comments showed a clear desire to get away from screens, among them “no phones or laptops please”, “nothing dependent on screens”, and an eagerness for “outdoor”, “hands-on”, “physical” activities.
Many kids referenced camping in their responses, one such saying: “I’m going camping for the first time and don’t have any experience or skills.”
Another said: “I would like to do some gardening and plant veggies.”
One of the main barriers to participation was noted as being travel costs and arrangements.
Several requests were made for free bus travel for children over the holiday period, and a better mix of bus times.
One child said: “If it is far away from my house then I would have problems because I wouldn’t be able to get there on my bike.”
The report concluded: “The high number of responses has helped us gain a very clear picture of the needs of our children, young people and families.
“We are currently liaising with providers to develop an exciting summer of play offer in keeping with analysis of the survey, and we hope to share the programme with families in mid-June.”