Couch potato kids miss out

By Lydia Anderson

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Rotorua kids are increasingly lacking basic skills to throw or catch a ball, and need extra coaching before they can play sport.

The revelation comes amid new warnings that couch potato kids who watch too much TV are missing out on vital social and physical interaction.

Sport Bay of Plenty chief executive officer Wayne Werder said the organisation offered fundamental movement programmes to schools because many children lacked the confidence or ability to get involved in sport without extra coaching.

"I think it's always going to be an issue. The whole nature of society is changing, where there are other opportunities to not play sport.

"But across the Bay of Plenty we've got such a great natural playground that there shouldn't be any excuse not to be active."

His comments come in the wake of a British government briefing document showing children who spend too much time in front of the television or playing computer games have less confidence, are more anxious and develop depression.

"That research would absolutely align with what we've always believed in," Mr Werder said.

But in the Bay there were "still people who like climbing trees and playing on farms", he said. "We do still have a very talented community. Our goal is that by the age of 12 children have the skills they need to enjoy sport for life."

Wellington clinical psychologist Josephine Leech, who specialises in child and family issues, said children who spent more time inside and in front of television were more likely to have problems and were not exposed to life's challenges.

"I think [the briefing] is consistent with other research about television watching and the effects on children.

"These things are quite well known, that sedentary children who are not out exercising, not out mixing socially, are more likely to have problems, less likely to have concentration spans that allow them to succeed at school, and less likely to have exposure to both successes and failures that life throws up and develop a more resilient temperament as a result."

Socialising and being active were important to a child's development, so the more television they watched, the less time they spent growing those important faculties.

"Children who spend lots of time sitting watching TV or in front of other electronic media are not allowing themselves to get out and test themselves against the world, and being with peers and the social opportunities that creates.

"They are possibly less likely to be involved in sports and other activities where children have the opportunity to develop their self esteem and do something purposeful."

The British study, How Healthy Behaviour Supports Children's Wellbeing, was published by Public Health England. additional reporting George Driver

- ROTORUA DAILY POST

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