A children’s charity that works closely with Theale Green School has warned that childhood inactivity and loneliness is on the verge of becoming a ‘new pandemic’ as new research reveals parents are increasingly worried their children are growing up spending too much time online and not enough time with friends or playing sport.

The research, commissioned by the Youth Sport Trust and conducted by YouGov, shows 83% of GB parents are concerned that children are spending too much time online and not enough time with one another. The findings also revealed that 80% of parents say that cuts to PE, sport and break times in school have a negative impact on young people’s wellbeing.

Nigel Huddleston, Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, was present.

On Wednesday May 11, Headteacher Joanna Halliday, travelled to the Houses of Parliament along with other MAT leads and the Youth Sport Trust to launch a new long-term strategy aimed at tackling the problem and build momentum ahead of the Government’s School Sport & Activity Action Plan​. There she spoke with Nigel Huddleston, Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary.

‘Inspiring Changemakers, Building Belonging’ is a 13-year plan ‘to inspire changemakers – the teachers, young people, organisations, families and influencers – who can reach a generation of young people to ensure that by 2035 all children grow up knowing how to balance the demands of the digital age’.

The Youth Sport Trust hopes the strategy will galvanise and inspire these changemakers to transform attitudes, improve practice and drive policy change, so that the power of play and sport can be harnessed to build a sense of belonging.

“Keeping physical activity at the heart of schools and communities is an imperative. We cannot shy away from the impact that physical well being has on the growth and development of young people, especially relating to their self-esteem, confidence and emotional well being. Driving strategy and resourcing from the highest levels is essential to support communities who are willing and able to provide the much needed opportunities for our children.”

Alison Oliver MBE, Chief Executive of the Youth Sport Trust, said:  “We are staring in the face of a ‘new pandemic’ of increasing rates of self-harm and children struggling in a digital age. Urgent action is needed.

“Children’s social and emotional wellbeing is in decline, and the findings today show there is a real concern from parents that their children are not getting enough play and sport. We know that unhappy, unhealthy children don’t learn as effectively. If children don’t learn we won’t have a society fit for the future. When children play and are physically active, they are happy, healthy and achieve.

“There is compelling evidence for the case for more play and sport in children’s lives. Daily physical activity, play and the development of physical literacy should be an integral part of every childhood.”

To read the new findings and strategy in full click here.

*UK parents survey: All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.