Turner’s linear kidsnet Boomerang EMEA has conducted new research, finding that nearly 50% of kids pack four to seven hours of extracurricular activities and social events into their normal week, according to their parents. And another 11% are putting in eight to 10 hours.
The new study was conducted over the summer in France, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Russia, South Africa and Turkey to examine the importance of downtime and humor in the increasingly busy lives of four- to seven-year-olds. A total sample of 3,500 parents were surveyed to find out how busy kids in this age range are, what they’re busy with, how they feel about downtime, and what they find funny.
A quarter of respondents say their kids often have more commitments and busier social lives than they do, and don’t get enough downtime or relaxation.
Play dates and birthday parties are the most common extracurricular activities for this age group, and 45% of respondents say their kids also spend up to 2.5 hours a week on household chores and school homework. Things differ geographically; more than 50% of Italian kids spend up to 2.5 hours a week at sports clubs, while four-to-sevens in Turkey engage in more scheduled weekly activities than any other country, participating in after-school, performing arts/theater and sports clubs.
And despite the fact that 54% of parents worry at least some of the time about their children feeling stressed out or under pressure, only 20% feel their kids value downtime more than they did at the same age because there’s less of it.
In terms of TV, 34% of parents don’t encourage their kids to watch shows that aren’t educational, despite agreeing that comedy programming “provides downtime,” “allows kids to develop” and “allows them to experience emotions such as laughter.”
Interestingly, in Turkey, where kids are the busiest, 22% of parents encourage non-educational viewing—more than in any other country.
Digging deeper into downtime, watching TV is one of the top activities parents say kids choose when they’re looking to relax, particularly at nighttime and when it’s rainy. In Poland, playing with toys was number one in any weather, while Turkish kids gravitate towards watching videos on the web, YouTube or social media platforms.
Nearly 90% of parents cited cartoons as their kids’ favorite genre of TV to relax with. But humor is a bit more family-oriented. Aside the 15% of four-to-sevens who get their jollies primarily from animated programming, more than 53% of parents said parents/caregivers/siblings are their child’s main source of humor. Furthermore, more than 50% of parents say their child laughs most when playing with family and friends, compared to only 30% who cited watching TV as the biggest inducer of giggles.
The Boomerang study comes on the heels of recent research from The LEGO Group finding that 88% of families who play together for five hours or more a week claim to be happy, despite playtime getting squeezed due to hectic schedules.