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Nickelodeon's war cry: 'Come out and play'

By Sangeeta Tanwar , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | October 28, 2010
The kids' channel is out with findings of its study titled 'Play Life'. The study reveals that kids in metros are spending less and less time playing outdoors

The kids' channel, Nickelodeon has come out with a study titled 'Play Life'. The study is an attempt to map out the play patterns of kids and address the existing barriers to playing outdoors.

The study was conducted by Hansa Research and covered 600 kids in the age-group of 8-14 years. It was conducted across six metros, namely Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad.

Nina Elavia Jaipuria, senior vice-president and general manager, Nickelodeon India, says, "The research was kick-started on the back of the hypothesis that the increasing number of entertainment options, coupled with academic pressure, has resulted in outdoor play being compromised. And with the study, now we have the numbers to prove this. Also, as a kids' broadcaster, our effort will be aimed at talking to the stakeholders (parents) to drive home the point that we need to encourage kids to play more, so that the kid does not turn into a recluse."

Jaipuria states that the research results are disheartening, as they show that on a normal weekday, children devote seven hours to studies and only 36 minutes to play. Kids are also spending more time watching TV, playing indoor games and surfing the internet.

Across the six metros, only 25 per cent of kids play outdoors everyday; while 39 per cent do not play at all. There is a visible gender bias, with more boys playing outdoors; while only 18 per cent of girls are reported to play.

"This discrepancy in higher hours of outdoor play by boys, as against girls, reflects the increased sense of security issues concerning girls over boys," says Jaipuria.

She adds that amongst all metros, Mumbai scores over others in sheer numbers. Be it boys or girls, 40 per cent kids in Mumbai play everyday. "This can be attributed to the higher number of extra-curricular options available in the city in terms of sports-music coaching classes."

Also, Mumbai's spirit of "Come what may; we will do what we are supposed to do" comes into play, while equally encouraging girls and boys to come out of their homes to play.

Jaipuria informs that parents came up with clear reasons for kids not devoting enough time to outdoor activities. About 40 per cent parents complain that there is no proper, designated space for kids to play. Another 29 per cent suggest that studies and homework end up taking up too much of kids' time. About 14 per cent parents point out that even if they push their kids to go out and play, kids refuse to venture out of home.

The channel plans to use the findings revealed in the study to urge kids to come out and play, by using kids' favourite cartoon characters such as Nick and Dora. The channel will completely switch off for an hour-and-a-half on October 30, in its bid to drive home the importance of physical activity and outdoor games.

As part of on-ground activities on October 30, the channel plans to play with kids in specially created play zones in four cities -- Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bengaluru. These play zones will have sporting tracks laid for activities such as three-legged race and obstacle race, as well as a skating rink.

Nickelodeon also supports all these initiatives, as part of the 'Let's Just Play' campaign, by promoting the concept on Facebook. On the social networking site, it has created a game called "Don't pass the buck, pass the ball". Here, individuals are encouraged to kick a ball; and for each ball being kicked, Re 1 will be donated to buy special sports kits for school students.

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