“Couch potato kids,” hear the phrase and an image pops into mind. And yes, there’s either a TV, a smartphone, or both, taking centre stage. Meanwhile, when you try to encourage kids to spend time outside, get some exercise, or play sports, there’s often a sigh of exasperation and a “Do we have to?” Is it just your kids?
When it comes to sports, especially organized ones, you don’t have to feel like the only mom or dad whose child doesn’t want to play. According to a US study, 70 percent of children will stop playing organized sports by the age of 13.
So, is it Really a Problem?
When we were at school, it seemed like adults were constantly talking about the importance of organized sports. “It teaches teamwork,” was probably one of the better reasons, while “It builds the school’s reputation,” may have been one of the reasons that made us shrug indifferently.
But organized sports, and particularly team sports, have real benefits that have been proven through research. Promoting the lifelong habits of physical fitness and healthy living may top the list, but there’s more to it than that. Psychology Today cites several studies on the benefits of sports.
You’ve probably guessed that the life lessons matter. Winning and losing with grace, working hard to achieve recognition, playing fair, and not always being the one who is picked for the team are hard lessons to learn, but they do reflect the rough and tumble of adult careers.
But there’s more to it than that. Sports and physical activity also improve cognitive performance. Kids who participate in sports are less likely to indulge in delinquent behaviour, and they’re less likely to drop out of school. The benefits that accrue to kids who play sport can be far-reaching.
Why do Kids Drop Out of Sports?
If you ask kids why they’re not interested in sports anymore, they’ll tell you it’s because they aren’t having fun anymore. What made sport stop being fun?
The emphasis on prestige, the pressure to succeed, and the focus on winning rather than just enjoying the game are all to blame. It’s simply not possible for EVERYONE to be good at sports; and the pressure to excel makes kids withdraw from the lists, even when they do have the potential to develop their physical skills. Who can blame them? In a sense, it’s a mature decision.
What Kids ReallyWant: and Why Parents Worry About it
Where are kids spending their free time when sports fall by the wayside? They love their social media. They love their online games. Here, they get the recognition and affirmation they crave, but it’s also a situation that makes parents worried.
What is that online game teaching them? Is their social media exposure safe? Are they becoming unable to relate to people in face-to-face interactions? And why, oh why, won’t they get off that couch and get some healthy exercise?
Could an Innovative Idea Close the Gap?
So far, we’ve looked at the problem. Is there a solution? Social enterprise Fanzland thinks they may have the answer. Why not reach kids on the platforms they like most? Give them an online game, and give them safe social media access, but make it a motivation to maintain an interest in sports.
It should be age-appropriate, well-moderated, and it should incentivise sports participation, sports fandom, and physical activity. Most important of all, it should be individualized. Every child is different, and what’s perfect for one won’t be right for another.
Is it too ambitious? Investigations show that the technology is there. Enquiries found that there are dedicated professionals who are willing to donate time and money to make it happen.
The Fanzland platform will combine online gaming and social media, and people around the world are becoming inspired to make it happen. The social enterprise is launching its crowdfunding campaign on the 10th of September this year and hopes to raise sufficient funds to perfect the game design and launch its app. To find out more
So, don’t be surprised if your sedentary teen suddenly insists on running around the block, heading to the park to hone ball-control skills, or starts following sports stars over pop stars. It’s going to be a movement!