The following is excerpted from an online article posted by MedicalXpress.
Whether it’s sports practice, music lessons, or a casual catch-up with friends, when children are involved in after-school activities, they’re more likely to feel happier and healthier than their counterparts who are glued to a screen.
In a new study conducted by the University of South Australia and the Department for Education, researchers found that children’s well-being is heightened when they participate in extra-curricular activities, yet lowered when they spent time on social media or playing video games.
Published in BMC Pediatrics, the study analyzed data from 61,759 school students in years 4 to 9, assessing the average number of days per week children participated in after-school activities (3–6 pm), and measured these against well-being factors—happiness, sadness, worry, engagement, perseverance, optimism, emotion regulation, and life satisfaction.
It found that most students watched TV about four days of the school week and spent time on social media about three days of the week.
Lead researcher, UniSA’s Dr. Rosa Virgara says the research highlights an acute need to encourage children to participate in activities other than screens.
“Helping children develop a good sense of personal well-being is paramount in today’s uncertain environment,” Dr. Virgara says.
“This is especially important for primary school-aged children as they’re learning about the challenges and risks that full-time school can present; but it’s equally important for teenagers who are facing a range of physical, social, and emotional changes. Our study highlights how some out-of-school activities can boost children’s well-being, while others—particularly screens—can chip away at their mental and physical health.