Youngsters miss out on down time outside school

Local | Riley Chan 30 Apr 2018

About half of primary school students do not get enough sleep or play time, a study shows.

The YWCA polled 1,060 pupils in 12 primary schools in June and July and found 52 percent of respondents slept less than the nine to 11 hours recommended by the US National Sleep Foundation.

Forty-five percent slept seven to eight hours while 7 percent slept less than six hours.

Only a quarter believed they had sufficient sleep.

And while the World Health Organization recommends daily play time of not less than an hour, over half ailed to meet that requirement. Twenty one percent said they had barely an hour a day while 24 percent had less. Alarmingly, 9 percent did not have any play time.

Kids were also polled on patterns of physical activity and it was found over 60 percent did not exercise three times a week, as suggested by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.

The lack could be due to heavy school workloads as 16 percent said they spent more than three hours a day on homework, while 28 percent needed two hours.

In terms of parent-child relationships, 20 percent said they spent less than an hour of quality time daily with their parents and 9 percent did not spend any time with parents.

Despite that, over half believe their relationships with parents were fine. But 20 percent admitted relations could be better.

YWCA supervisor Simon Leung Kwong-ho said the fact most children are satisfied with their lifestyles implies parents instill their own values in their children.

The youngsters "don't have a concept of what a balanced life is like," he said.

Leung said parent-child relationships, homework times and exercise frequencies all have a bearing on social skills.

Parents should let children make their own decisions.

A mother said rather than pushing her three children in a top school she is content with them going to one that does not press a deep-rooted culture of drilling. She also said she does not arrange any after-school tutoring and is willing to let her children take whatever courses interest them.

"For sure I would be happy if my children attain good grades," she said "but do I really want to push them over the edge for additional scores in a test? I just want them to enjoy their childhood with sufficient play time and sleep."

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