It's not an overstatement to say that kids today are just too busy. But now there's a study confirming what we already know; this is problem on a global scale. A new study by Boomerang EMEA shows that kids all around the world are seriously over scheduled. Kidscreen reports that based on the study, 50 percent of kids are spending between four and seven hours a week on extracurricular activities. An additional 11 percent somehow pack eight to 10 hours in a week. That is a mix of different kinds of activities, including sports and homework. When you think about it, that's a lot.
For perspective, parents of the children in the study say that their kids often have the busier schedules! Between lessons, activities and social commitments, they are not getting a sufficient amount of relaxation or downtime. That is absolutely too much for kids.
The study, which was conducted over the summer, sampled 3,500 parents of kids between the ages of four to seven year olds. All the families were in France, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Russia, South Africa and Turkey, but the results are universal. It is not much different here in the United States. According to the study, more than 50 percent of kids in Italy spend up to 2.5 hours a week in sports clubs. Comparatively, 57 percent of kids between 6 and 17 (an older age group than this particular study) participate in at least one after school activity, per the 2014 U.S. Census Bureau Report. In addition, kids in Turkey are engaging in the most after school activities of any country.
But not all the activities are fun things like sports and theatre groups. Homework and chores still account for some large percentages as well. Around 45 percent of the parents in the study say their kids have up to 2.5 hours a week on chores and homework. For the same age group in the United States, that number can close to double. In 2015, a study in The American Journal of Family Therapy spoke about how American children were getting way more homework than was age appropriate. A CNN report on the study explained that parents were reporting up to 30 minutes of homework for first graders, which is approximately three times the recommended amount.
Kids need a break. And while birthday parties and playdates took up the largest portion of their time, even those can be overwhelming. Kids deserve to have time to themselves to do whatever they want. For some, that may be playing by themselves, or watching television. We as adults constantly crave downtime, so wouldn't our kids too?
And if they're that over committed to activity, then what about family time? Kidscreen reports that a recent study by the LEGO Group claims that 88 percent of families to get to play and spend time together for more than five hours a week are happier. Five hours a week may be a lot, but if our kids are busier than we are, how are we giving them a structure of what to emulate as they get older. What's their point of reference on how to live a productive, balanced life?