What is the Play Must Stay campaign?
Previous research carried out by the API has shown a sharp and ongoing decline in the number of playgrounds across England. In 2016 and then again in 2018, local authorities responded to our Freedom of Information requests and the picture was one of squeezed budgets and mass playground closures.
We wanted to know what effect these closures were having on children, families and communities in the UK so we launched Play Must Stay.
How did you get your data?
We issued a survey to parents of children aged 0-12 through Mumsnet – the UK’s biggest website for parents. We asked them about their children’s behaviours around outdoor play and indoor screen-time. We also wanted to know what parents thought about how their children spend their free time. The questions were checked for bias by the Mumsnet Insight Team and issued on one of their forums.
What kind of response did you get to the survey?
Within days of its issue the survey received hundreds of responses. It was clearly an issue of concern for parents and by the end of the survey period 1111 parents had completed the survey.
What were the survey’s main findings?
The data showed that parents are worried and concerned about the shift from outdoor play to indoor screen time. Almost half of parents said they find it difficult to persuade their child to leave their screen and the same proportion said their child prefers screen time over other activities. This figure rises to 70% for children aged 10 to 12.
The data also showed the value that parents place on having local playgrounds, with 9 out of 10 parents without a nearby playground saying it would make their child play outside more. Over two-thirds of those with a local playground said that it does indeed make their child play outside more.
What are the effects of playground closures on children’s health?
The data showed that parents think the lack of outdoor play provision is having a profound effect on their children’s health. 72% of parents with children with health issues like obesity said that the lack of playgrounds has played a role in their children’s problems.
Parents also think that playground closures are affecting their children in other ways; over a quarter of those with children with mental health difficulties said that the lack of local playgrounds has played a role. A similar proportion of parents of children with sleep issues said the lack of outdoor play facilities had played a role.
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