Insight shows children’s attitudes to physical activity and sport
Five key findings have been uncovered that are essential to get children and young people active.
In December participation figures from the Active Lives Children and Young People Survey were published for the academic year 2017/2018. More than 130,000 young people were surveyed.
The findings provide us with a better understanding into the attitudes young people have on physical activity and sport.
The five key findings are:
- Physically literate children do twice as much activity. Physical literacy includes; enjoyment, confidence, competence (how easy they find it), understanding (that it is beneficial) and knowledge (knowing how to get involved and improve). The more of the five elements the children have, the more active they are.
- Enjoyment is the biggest driver of activity levels. Despite the majority of children (68%) understanding that sport and activity is good for them, understanding had the least impact on activity levels.
- Children who have all five elements of physically literacy report higher levels of happiness, are more trusting of other children, and report higher levels of resilience (continuing to try if you find something difficult).
- Physical literacy decreases with age. As children grow older, they report lower levels of enjoyment, confidence, competence, and understanding. Previous research from Sport England shows that activity levels drop when children reach their teenage years.
- The results also reveal important inequalities among certain groups of children which must be tackled:
- Girls are less likely to say they enjoy or feel confident about doing sport and physical activity. (58% of boys enjoy it, compared to 43% of girls. 47% of boys feel confident, compared to 31% of girls.) Among children aged 5-7, boys are more likely to love playing sport, while girls are more likely to love being active.
- Children from the least affluent families are less likely to enjoy activity than those from the most affluent families, and previous research shows they are also far less likely to be active.
- Black children are more physically literate than other ethnic groups – driven by boys, but they’re less active than the population as a whole.
Currently, around three million children and young people (43.3%) are active, but a third of children (32.9%) are less active, doing less than 30 minutes of activity a day. The results prove for the first time that children’s physical literacy impacts not only the amount of activity they do, but also how much they benefit from this activity.
Sport England’s Chief Executive, Tim Hollingsworth, is calling for everyone involved in a child’s activity level to ensure that enjoyment is at the heart of anything they do.
“The fact that a third of children aren’t nearly as active as they need to be, demonstrates we need to do things differently if we want to build a generation of young people who want to take part in physical activity as children and into adulthood.
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