Study: Czech children more active than their peers

Photo: Lothar Martin

Czech children are more active than their peers in other parts of the world when it comes to spending their free time, suggests an international study carried out by experts from the Palacký University in Olomouc. According to the survey, nearly 90 percent of Czech kids attend some after-school classes. However, an increasing number of them also spend time at their computers.

Photo: Lothar Martin
The global survey ‘Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children’ (HBSC), done in coordination with the World Health Organisation every four years, focuses on the well-being, social environments and health behaviours of children aged 11 to 15. Here in the Czech Republic, it was carried out among 13,000 children from nearly 230 schools.

“If I have time left before my step-aerobics class, I like to talk to my friends on WhatsApp or we arrange to go outside together.”

Eleven-year-old Monika from the Central-Bohemian town of Příbram is a typical Czech adolescent. She likes to spend her free time drawing or going to movies.

According to the HBSC study, 86 percent of Czech school-age children regularly engage in some after-school activities, including sports and arts classes.

At least 40 percent of Czech adolescents, who took part in the study, said they also regularly engage in some form of physical activity with their family. Sixteen years ago, that figure was ten percent lower.

The worrying part of the study is that an increasing number of Czech school-age children tend to spend time in front of the television, computer or smart phone. Petr Baďura is a member of the research team from Palacký University in Olomouc:

“During the weekend, every second 15-year-old girl spends at least four hours on social networks.”

While girls prefer to spend time on social networks, boys like playing games and watching videos. Mr Baďura says at least eight percent of children admit to having a problem staying off-line:

Illustrative photo: natureaddict,  Pixabay,  CC0 1.0 DEED
“The time spent on social media cuts their sleeping hours and takes away time for school work. To spend time on the Internet, they are willing to neglect their hobbies, argue with their parents and friends or even to lie.”

The study also suggests that every fourth child in the country spends his or her free time in some of the after-school activities organised by the network of Children and Youth Centres, which are available even to children from low-income families.

Libor Bezděk is the head of the Children and Youth Centres network in Prague:

“Czech law enables us to provide a discount for these children, or, in worse cases, even to admit them for free. The problem is that many parents are ashamed and as a result, their children do not attend our classes.”

One of the new pastimes of Czech adolescents, especially girls, is going to shopping malls. According to the HBSC study, three out of ten kids go there at least three times a week. However, one third of Czech school-age kids find time to read a book at least once a week and one fifth of them go out every day to meet friends.