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New global study finds kids prefer play

Believe it or not, when given the choice, it seems most children would pick playing with their friends and parents over logging time in front of a TV or computer screen. At least that's what a new Ikea-funded global research study called Playreport has revealed.
July 23, 2010

Believe it or not, when given the choice, it seems most children would pick playing with their friends and parents over logging time in front of a TV or computer screen. At least that’s what a new Ikea-funded global research study called Playreport has revealed.

At first glance, it appears unlikely that one of the world’s largest furniture manufacturers and retailers would pour resources into mounting a wide-ranging study on kids’ behavior, but Janice Simonsen, US Ikea design spokesperson, believes that the info will be valuable for the business. ‘The home is in many ways the most important playground,’ says Simonsen. ‘Our aim is to increase awareness, start meaningful discussions and hopefully get parents and children to play more together in the process.’

London-based firm Research Now fielded an online survey in 25 countries, including the US, China, Japan and Russia, on behalf of Ikea. It ended up conducting approximately 11,000 interviews with both parents and children, making Playreport the largest single study of its kind.

Playreport is now being used to develop products for Ikea’s children’s range. ‘What the study has given us is not so much information about a product level, but more knowledge on trends related to how children live,’ says Simenson. ‘With this information we can create better solutions and give families with children ideas.’ (At press time it was still too early in the process to say what specific information will be used in product creation.)

As for the study’s most surprising finding, Ikea Sweden design spokesperson Sara Schestrom says Playreport’s results dispel a long-held belief that kids would rather stare at a TV screen than interact with parents or friends. The study found 30% of kids interviewed named playing with friends their favorite activity, while 15% chose playing computer games and just 6% named watching TV.

‘Most children prefer to play with their parents than watch TV,’ Schestrom says, stressing that parents are also interested in partaking in casual activities with their children rather than prescribed ones. ‘Seven in 10 parents would like to ‘just chill’ with their children,’ she says.

The study also reveals that time constraints are still a major problem facing the modern family. Longer work hours have resulted in 45% of parents feeling they don’t have enough time to play with their kids, while 26% think they are too stressed out to play and 46% admit to feeling guilty about not spending enough time with their offspring.

Simonsen, however, prefers to look at the more positive information gathered. ‘It was quite relieving to see from the results that children actually prefer to play rather than watch TV,’ she says. ‘That children just want to spend time with friends and families is very reassuring. We were also happy to see the majority of parents believe that play is important to children’s development.’

About The Author
Gary Rusak is a freelance writer based in Toronto. He has covered the kids entertainment industry for the last decade with a special interest in licensing, retail and consumer products. You can reach him at garyrusak@gmail.com

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