Phone

New research shows that more than half of 9-year-olds in Ireland own a mobile phone

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The number of children participating in sports, music and dance has decreased, as has the number of children reading outside of school.

Growth in Ireland takes a look at how the lives of nine-year-olds have changed over the past decade and the results are stark.

The number of children participating in sports, music and dance has decreased, as has the number of children reading outside of school.

Research conducted by ESRI has revealed that more time watching TV or on screens makes children less likely to engage in other activities.

Only 34% of children play sports every day, while 44% take part in music or dance lessons.

This is a 10 percent decrease for those who were nine years old a decade ago.

Now more than half of 9-year-olds are armed with their own phones, up another 10 percent from 2008.

The research shows that gender makes a huge difference in how Irish nine-year-olds experience the world.

Girls are found to be closer to their parents and have conflict, while boys are seen to have smaller friendship groups and see their friends more often.

Girls are more likely to read in order to please but less likely to participate in sports. They also spend less time on digital devices than boys.

Girls are more positive about school in general but less positive about math.

ESRI says this view is growing more and more over time.

“There are worrying trends in children’s participation in sports, cultural pursuits and reading, and in activities that enhance their development,” said report author Professor Emyr Smith.

“Continued efforts on the part of schools and libraries will be critical in trying to reverse the decline in reading for pleasure that exists among many groups of children.”

Professor Smith told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that research on Irish children is important to make urgent changes.

She said the change in the children’s activities may be due to the time spent on screens.

“We’re seeing a shift in the type of screen time, an increase in the percentage of cell phones and a shift away from television to other devices,” she said.