Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

August 2021

Screentime Up, Mental & Physical Fitness Down, Says New Study

A new research study from TeamSnap in collaboration with The Aspen Institute's Sports & Society Program, Families in Sport Lab at Utah State University and Louisiana Tech University's Minds in Motion Lab, demonstrated significant findings about the connection between youth sports and health, with nine in 10 parents (89%) citing mental health as a top reason their children participate in youth sports, and more than half (52%) reporting that their children's mental health and physical fitness decreased during the pandemic.

The proprietary research will help shape the conversation about the important role of sports in youth development and the wide-ranging negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Top findings from the study include:

  • Mental health and physical fitness declined among young people: More than half of parent respondents reported that their children's mental health (52%) and physical fitness (53%) decreased during the pandemic, and nearly half of parents said their children's emotional control (48%) and social well-being (45%) decreased as well.
  • Having fun, mental health and physical fitness are parents' top three goals for youth sports: Parents say the most important outcome of playing sports is having fun (95% of respondents), followed closely by supporting mental health (89%) and enhancing physical fitness (88%). However, parents indicated that their children's achievement of these goals during the pandemic was significantly lower, with only about half of parents (54%) saying their children did very well with having fun, and even less (52%) saying their children did very well with supporting mental health and enhancing physical fitness.
  • Social distancing and lockdowns increased children's screen time: The pandemic had significant effects on the activities children were involved in, as their time spent in organized sport, in free play, at school and with friends decreased greatly (69%, 60%, 68% and 72% of parents respectively), while their screen time increased dramatically. In fact, eight in 10 parents (82%) said their children's screen time increased or greatly increased during the pandemic.
  • Community responses to COVID-19 were looked at more favorably than national responses: The more distant an entity is from a family, the less satisfied parents were with their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly three in four parents (74%) were satisfied with their child's coach's response to the pandemic, while only 40% were satisfied with their state's response, and even less (33%) were satisfied with their country's response.

"Throughout the pandemic, the abrupt pause of youth athletics left kids without an environment to gather with their friends and teammates. Unfortunately, the isolation of this period had negative impacts on the mental health, physical fitness and emotional well-being of this emerging generation of bright and talented young athletes," said Peter Frintzilas, TeamSnap CEO. "By exploring these impacts with the help of two universities and The Aspen Institute, we aim to gain a deeper understanding of how the lives of those in our sports communities have changed, so we can be an even more valuable resource to help parents get kids away from the screen and back out onto the field."

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