“We must create a future in which our children and healthy and physically active.” This, says Professor Dané Coetzee, child kinetics specialist at the School of Human Movement Sciences of the North-West University (NWU), must remain a priority. That is why, in this increasingly digital world, we must look a what worked in the past.
“I have seen through recent research and first-hand experience that our children’s motor skills and motor development are systematically deteriorating. This not only affects their health, but also contributes to their becoming more overweight and even suffering from obesity. They are also more reluctant to take part in sport because they no longer have the skills to do so,” says Coetzee.
“We must focus on getting our children’s little bodies outside so that they can play and develop. It is essential for our children to start playing. Active playing must take place. Children also learn by playing.”
According to her the one issue is the role that digital media play in children’s development.
“Digital media can be a good thing for our children, but it can also be bad. The saying that too much of anything is a bad thing also applies to social media.”
She also mentions that during the Covid-19 pandemic children were forced to spend more time in front of their screens, but that it should not be allowed to remain the norm.
“Children played outside less and played less with their friends, and so the development of those soft skills was neglected. It is also very important that when children are busy with social or digital media, their activities should be monitored. They need not be removed from their development completely, but they must be monitored. Too much social and digital media can lead to children’s motor skills not developing as they should. Too much screen time causes bad sleeping habits, which in turn could lead to possible behaviour problems. It can also lead to poor concentration, which then naturally affects their school achievements.”
Coetzee concluded by saying: “I want to make it clear once more that screen time need not be taken away, but that it must be monitored responsibly.”