Fun City announces first-ever Children's Play Index for UAE
- United Arab Emirates: Wednesday, November 21 - 2012 at 09:26
- PRESS RELEASE
Fun City, the family leisure company that is committed to providing wholesome entertainment to children, announced the first ever Children's Play Index in the UAE at a press event in Dubai. With an Index score of 32, UAE children appear to have a good balance between play and other activities during their daily routine.
The Index sheds light on the amount of time that UAE children between the ages of 2-12 years spend on play as well as their playing patterns. The research aims to raise awareness about the need for a well-balanced developmental approach towards children with a combination of indoor and outdoor play activities.
Fun City Children's Play Index is based on a survey conducted between July-September 2012 among 400 family respondents from different nationalities with children in the age group of 2-12 years residing in the different emirates of the UAE. The Index assesses fundamental play activities during a child's regular day such as the total amount of their days' time spent playing, the split of indoor vs. outdoor play, active vs. passive play, popular playing activities, and exposure to technology.
"Fun City Children's Playing Index is an effort to raise awareness about a well-balanced time allocation between scholastic and recreational activities for children in the UAE. It is heartening to know that children spend a sufficient amount of their time in play activities in spite of the harsh weather conditions and a busy scholastic schedule in the UAE. However, the research showed an imbalance between the active and passive play activities which needs attention. As a leading community oriented family entertainment centre in the UAE, this project is a reflection of our intention to provide relevance and value to our consumers and the society at large,"said Silvio Liedtke, Chief Operating Officer, Landmark Leisure.
"Although it is in its first year, the Index aims at becoming the benchmark for evaluating playing patterns among children on an annual basis. The Index is a comprehensive survey that measures the playing patterns of children and provides a guideline to dispel myths and assumptions, if any, in the playing sphere for children in the UAE," he added.
Commenting on the research findings, Sandra Willis from Inspire and Parenting Consultant to Fun City stated, "Through this research, Fun City is at the forefront of defining and measuring play activities for children in the UAE. This serves to promote play activities as a sure and fun way to develop children's imagination, creativity, problem-solving abilities, and over all mental health."
Some of the key research findings are:
1. Close to a quarter (26%) of the children in the UAE spend an average 3 hours per day on an activity involving interaction with technology: TV watching, video games, internet games. One in five (20%) children spends more than 4 hours on average watching TV each day.
2. Along with the conventional toys every child has at least one Xbox / PS3/ or hand held video game in their toy box, thus increasing the need to spend more time indoors. (Impact of such devices is so great that children in the age group of 2-5 years slide their finger or touch the TV/phone screens in the hope that "something would happen") While the touch screens seem to have a particular appeal with children, they are passive games in nature. (Studies conducted in western countries have shown that extensive use of gadgets at an early age have negative effects on the analytical capacity and the child development at large).
3. Play affects all aspects of the child's development; how they develop physically, emotionally, socially and psychologically. Technology toys may have a negative impact(10% are engaged with such toys on a daily basis) on the child's body, straining the eyes and impairing hearing. (Psychological studies have also indicated a relation between the time spent on electronic devices and lack of concentration and aggressiveness in children.)
4. On an average week day, children in the UAE spend less than an hour engaging in outdoor activity. This time increases to 1.5 hours during the weekend. (While child-psychology experts have shown that ideally a child should spend at least 3 hours per day in an outdoor environment, this is particularly difficult in the region. The main repercussion suggested by a number of researchers is obesity in children - a current problem in UAE).
Some otherinsights of the study are:
• Western children spend a significantly higher proportion of their time on playing activities as compared to children of other nationalities.
• The younger age groups spend relatively more time playing as compared to the older children.
• 58% of children spendtheir time playing indoor games as compared to 29% who spend their play time outdoors while 12% also engage in learning or playing an outdoor sport. This sports-based time is spent mostly at schools (after school hours) or at specialized sports coaching centres.
• A large proportion of Emirati and Arab children spend almost 67% and 68% of their time respectively playing indoor games as compared to children of other nationalities. However, almost 22% of western expats engage their children in learning and playing an outdoor sport.
• Almost 33% of Asian expat children spend time playing outdoors with other children.
• It was interesting to see a very healthy sign that 54% of the Emirati children play with their family. This indicates a strong family bond among siblings and signifies a healthy growth pattern.
• However, it was observed that 62% of children in the UAE tend to play alone. This pattern is a result of the large number of nuclear expat families that are based in the UAE.
• As a result of more time spent indoors by UAE children, an interesting insighthighlights that 56% of the children in the UAE prefer to play thinking games such asmemory based games or solving puzzles.
• Memory games and war games are significantly preferred by Arab children, while mathematical games are preferred by Western children and puzzles by Asians.
Fun City engaged TNS Research Agency to interview 400 parents across all nationalities including Emiratis, Expat Arabs, Asians & Westerners residing in the UAE to understand the playing patterns of children in the UAE and to compile a Children's Play Index.
Respondents were asked to provide answers to a questionnaire comprising of 11 questions in a detailed interview set in order to understand their child/children's daily life and the time divide between scholasticand recreational activities. The responses depict the actual lifestyle of the respondents' children.
Data Collection was through a face to face survey with responses recorded in a questionnaire. The Index is calculated on a scale of zero to 200. As there were a minimum of two overlapping activities observed for each time slot in the day, the scale was doubled to 200. In order to calculate the index, the number of playing activities were computed for the entire sample in each time slot for an average day of the week and then divided by the total number of activates. This was then indexed for each individual to get an overall score.
The 400 respondents were mothers of children between 2-12 years of age and hailed from different emirates in the UAE. The sample consisted of 35% of children in the age group of 2-5 years, 34% in the age group of 6-8 years and 31% in the age group of 9-12 years.
This is the first Index of its kind in the UAE.In the future, Fun City also aims to carry out this survey in other countries in the region with the goal of generating more comparative information and a better analysis of the playing patterns of children in the region.
Fun City's initiatives in the area of Child Development
Keeping up with Landmark Group's philosophy of creating "exceptional value for the lives we touch", Fun City has put together a panel of child psychologists and parenting experts to provide parenthood insights and guidance to parents at select Fun City centres in Dubai.
These experts will help parents enjoy their journey of parenthood while dealing with the regular issues associated with child rearing; they will aim to provide parents with insights and techniques that can help them handle these issues in a positive way.
These experts will be stationed at Fun City centres in Dubai on specific days and timings and will conduct a 90 minute interactive session with the attending parents. Registration for these sessions is free of cost.
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