One out of three children gets no time to play

Children play with their kitchen sets in the yard in the Deobhog area of Akhra, Narayanganj.Dinar Mahmud

One out of three children does not have enough time to play and one out of five children has no safe place for playing games, while one in three children with disabilities has no playmates, according the Power of Play report released by the International Day of Play (IDOP) network.

The IDOP global network prepared the report based on the opinions of more than 10,000 children aged between 3 and 18 from 21 countries including 400 children from Bangladesh.

Tuesday, 11 June, marks the first-ever International Day of Play, which is being celebrated across the world focusing on access to education and intellectual growth through increasing the importance of play in children’s lives.

On 25 March, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a proposal to declare a new day with the agreement of over 140 member countries.

To observe the day, the IDOP network of organisations is being coordinated by The LEGO Foundation, and Brac is one of the network partners. Brac conducted surveys on children, guardians and local people from Bangladesh, Uganda, Tanzania and Sierra Leon.

Reduced childhood

Banker couple Afrina Khanam and Fazlul Karim live in the capital’s Banshundhra Residential Area and they have two children. Their 11-year-old daughter Alisha Afrin Khan is a student at a school on the day shift while their 9-year-old son, Arish Afraz Khan is a student at another school in the morning shift.

Afrina Khanam told Prothom Alo it is a big issue to get spare time amid tutoring, homework, drawing class and the school’s IQ club class, and how much the children get they like to spend on mobile phones. They spend a little time playing with the children at night after returning home. The children want to play with friends in an open space, but they cannot give them the opportunity due to the lack of open space and safety.

According to several guardians, children are getting habituated to playing with gadgets due to a lack of opportunities to games; as a result, many children from rural areas also spend time on mobile phones despite having playgrounds.

A guardian, Mizanur Rahman told Prothom Alo two of his three children are 10 and 13. He admitted them to a sports facility to play on the school grounds on the weekend, but he stopped it after the fees rose by 1,000 taka to 15,000 taka. He bought them Ludo, chess and a Rubik's cube at home, but children prefer playing virtual games on mobile phones, tablets and computers. In the time they get after their studies, they immerse themselves in gadgets.

According to the IDOP report, some children do not have time to play or permission or necessary facilities. Twenty per cent of children in Asia do not have permission to play while 10 per cent in Europe and America and 28 per cent in Africa.

The report also highlighted children’s interest in play as well as the impact of play on children’s minds. Ninety-seven per cent of children said play is necessary for them; 71 per cent found play gives them joy; 57 per cent opined they can make friends through games while 45 per cent of children enjoy spending time with their parents, family members and caregivers.