1 in 3 kids spend less time playing than adults spend on their smartphones

Singer Paloma Faith teams up with the LEGO Group to mark World Play Day. Image: The LEGO Group
●  A new global study shows 1 in 3 children (32%) are spending less time playing a week than most adults spend scrolling on their smartphones per day    
●  The LEGO Group is encouraging families to prioritise play after finding that 70% of parents choose achievement-based activities for their kids over playtime
●  According to UK parents, play is fundamental to kids’ growth, boosting their creativity (59%), confidence (57%) and communication skills (54%)

A new study has discovered that one in three children globally are spending less time playing a week than most adults spend scrolling on their smartphones per day. 

70% of UK parents are choosing achievement-based activities for their kids over unstructured play as they believe it opens greater opportunities for them in the future 

The global study of over 32,000 parents of kids aged from 6 -12 years old was commissioned by The LEGO Group, which announced its new ‘Play is A Superpower’ campaign, aimed at addressing the global lack in play amongst children.

As part of the World Play Day celebrations on 12th October 2023, the LEGO Group is inspiring families to re-prioritise playtime, emphasising its critical importance in childhood development and the role it has in bringing fun to families around the world.

To help those of all ages unleash their superpower of play, the LEGO Group has launched a series of playful initiatives for any family schedule. From interactive events to playable missions on LEGO.com, the day’s play-packed roster is, claims LEGO, full of inspiration to help families and communities play. 

With over one in three (30%) children in the UK spending less than three hours per week enjoying play, the current play deficit is a cause for concern for experts given the crucial role of play in shaping a child’s cognitive abilities, overall wellbeing and most importantly, in them having fun.

Creativity (59%), confidence (57%) and communication (54%) are the top skills that play can boost for children according to UK parents.

Says Singer songwriter, Paloma Faith who features in the campaign:

“I’ve always valued the importance of play – from when I was really young to every day in my career now. Growing up, I used my imagination to build a world full of possibilities and endless excitement. That’s why imagination is my superpower, and it’s something I encourage my children to explore in their everyday lives.”

Adds Dr. Sara Baker, Professor of Developmental Psychology and Education at the University of Cambridge:

“Play can supercharge a child’s future. Through play, children develop essential skills such as communication, confidence, teamwork and creativity that enhance every other area of their development, learning and growth. And play doesn’t need to take up too much time, it can be as simple as singing a song on the way to school or making up a new ending to your favourite bedtime story together.”  

To help families share more playful moments of joy, Dr. Sara Barker shares her top five tips for including more play in the day: 

  1. Make it simple – Play can be found in the simplest of activities, whether it’s a little dance while brushing teeth or using a bus ride to spot as many things beginning with a letter as you can. 

  2. Don’t overthink it –There is no right or wrong way to play – anything that is enjoyable will benefit the whole family. 

  3. Find a good play mix – try a range of playful activities to keep children entertained and help them develop a wide set of skills – from puzzles to singing or being active outside – everything helps! 

  4. Let your child take the lead – kids have the most amazing imaginations, so if you are lacking for play ideas, turn to them and let their creativity run wild.

  5. Use what you have around you – walking back from school? How about a game of hopscotch on the pavement, or in the car for a long journey? Make a game of I Spy with your friend.

Says Christian Pau, VP and UK & Ireland GM at the LEGO Group:

“World Play Day is all about inspiring families to play. It’s no secret that the modern family schedule is packed full of responsibilities that can spill into time for this. The beauty of play is that it is limitless; you can play anywhere; with anything; and also, by just using your imagination. A world with more play means more creativity, innovation, togetherness, and most importantly, fun!”   

Initiatives from the LEGO Group to help families in the UK celebrate World Play Day in the UK:

·   The LEGO Superpower Academy in London, free for families from October 12th – 18th

·   A range of playful and creative celebrities will take over the LEGO Group’s social channels for ‘24 hours of fun’ – sharing inspiration for how they are weaving play into the day

·   Selected LEGO Stores across the UK and Europe will be handing out free play mission packs on the day. Visit LEGO.com/stores for more details

·   LEGO Education will be helping teachers bring more play to the classroom with brand-new activities designed to help students learn through play

·   On LEGO.com families can take part in a range of quick and easy interactive games and experiences

·   The LEGO Life app will also offer kids a huge range of engaging Play Missions and challenges

Chris Price