Shortage of Open Spaces and Playgrounds Lead to Negative Tendencies in Children

A healthy body is the house of a healthy mind. At the growing age, it comes with lot of physical activities, games and sports played outside in the open spaces and play grounds, which are perishing fast. These outer spaces significantly impact our mental and physical well-being as the foundation of a person’s growth and betterment lies in the very environment he/she resides in.

 

Environmental structures such as parks and playgrounds act as a platform for children to engage in physical activities. A report for District Information System for Education (DISE) emphasizes that even 40% of schools in India lacks playgrounds. This downfall has significantly affected children’s various aspects of growth and has developed several harmful dispositions into them. 

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Harmful Impact of Lack of Open Spaces

In today’s time, a great number of residential spaces have turned into concise and congested flats, leaving minimum open spaces affecting adversely the creativity and positive throught process of upcoming generation that remains more engaged in digital instruments, mobiles, TVs, Computers, Internet browsing. All this impacts their natural growth and lead to negative tendencies. Many youngsters have lost their lives playing game on mobile without the knowledge of their parents.

 

Schools Without Play Grounds

How can a school without play ground help its students to grown up as strong citizens physically & mentally. While the schools in foreign countries which have smaller geographical area, are not allowed to operate without a well designed play ground of required size, in India there are many schools operating and imparting education without a play ground or a with a very small play ground which is not compatible to their student strength. 

  • In a survey, the data collected by the Government of Odisha with the help of National Informatics Centre (NIC) from 41,894 schools showed that 32,677 schools or 78 percent, do not have playground in school premises.
  • The data with Telegana School Education Department reveals that 49.2% schools (both public and private) in Hyderabad do not have playgrounds. 
  • A report for District Information System for Education (DISE) emphasizes that 40% of schools in India lacks playgrounds.
  • In 2016, a report published by the Ministry of Human Resource Development showed that 4 out of every 10 schools in India do not have a playground. 

Loss of Playgrounds: Reasons

Lack in the open spaces for physical activities and gradually vanishing play grounds has become an alarming situation in India. Key reasons for this loss can be attributed to population explosion, urbanization and commercialization.

 

Rising Urban Population

In many developing countries like India, the expansion of urban population has resulted into a rapid rise in the demand for housing, land for industry and commerce, public buildings and infrastructure, which has minimized the existence of playgrounds. 

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Unplanned Growth in Metropolis

The unplanned growth of metropolitan cities of India has greatly contributed to the shortage of playgrounds spaces. The sprawling urbanization and the rate of population in cities like Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi NCR have eradicated areas for parks and playgrounds. According to the World Bank report (1991), since 1950, the population in metropolitan cities has increased from 300 million to 1.3 billion and by the year 2030, these cities are expected to grow by 160 percent.

 

Commercialization of Open Spaces

Existing playgrounds have been used as commercial ventures which discourage children to use them. The gradual loss of playgrounds has started a new practice of rented playgrounds in Bangalore. To play on weekends, the children usually have to pay the amount of Rs 1,800-2,000. They have to pay an additional charge of Rs 300-400 per hour for flood lights during night play. In addition, several playgrounds have been used as coaching camps which charge excessive amount of fees.

 

Changing Lifestyle

The National Health Portal of India has mentioned several factors that are turning children as non-indulgent towards physical activities. Some of the enlisted factors are sedentary lifestyle, increased use of technology, absence of parks or sidewalks, spending more time on watching television, playing computer games, heavy load of academics, using computers, fewer walks or cycling to school, and insufficient physical education and other school-based physical activities.

 

Negative effects on children due to lack of playgrounds-

1.  Deterioration in open areas and loss of playgrounds has induced children to engage in smart phones and have increased their screen time. A report by Common Sense Media – which is an NGO focused on helping children, parents, and educators navigate the world of media and technology, stated that in 2013, children spent about 15 minutes a day staring at the mobile screen and now they spend 48 minutes a day. The report also found that 42% of children aged 8 and younger now have their own electronic devices such as tablets and phones, which is a steep rise from 7% four years ago and less than 1% in 2011. Lack of open spaces such as parks and playgrounds indicates that nowadays children spend most of their time indoor, playing video games, watching television and surfing internet.

2.  Decline in playgrounds causes lack of physical activity which is one of the greatest contributors of childhood obesity. In 2009, The National Youth Risk Behavior Survey conducted a survey among students in grades 9–12 in public and private schools. The reports stated that 23% of students did not participate in any type of physical activity. NYRB stated that the availability of and accessibility to play amenities (e.g., parks, gardens and playgrounds) is regarded as one of the indispensable elements affecting childhood obesity.

3. Regression in the number of playgrounds has also led to severe mental health issues in children. In the most recent issue of the American Journal of Play, psychologist Peter Gray emphasizes on lack of play due to decline in outdoor play amenities. In his experiments, 54% of child population showed signs of mental problems such as slow emotional development, anxiety, depression, and loss of attention & self control due to lack of outdoor play spaces.

4. Playgrounds are structures aimed to promote play activities and social interaction of children. Debilitation of playgrounds is rapidly making children to indulge in antisocial behavior and minimizing social interaction with their peers and parents. A report by Health Education Research stated that children who spent 3 to 4 hours of play in a day are more interactive with their family, friends and teachers as compared to those who spend playing outdoor for 30 minutes or less than that.

 

How to Bring Change

  • Till proper arrangements for playgrounds are made at schools, the ground in every small locality could be used by surrounding schools. The authorities concerned should create a timetable for each school, and then each of them can make use of the ground at a time allotted to them.
  • For small schools with no playgrounds, a sports auditorium at the top-most floor of the school building can be built where sports such as volleyball and badminton can be accommodated.
  • In the recent years, the pressure of studies and academic stress is the primary reason of children’s non-participation in physical activities. Parents and teachers should take a lead by helping and encouraging them to relieve the load of studies and support them to engage in co- curricular activities.
  • School faculty should actively engage with students and impart physical education and facilitate school-based physical activities.

Efforts Made with Social Awareness

  • People4People is an active trust fund, which has sponsored the construction of playgrounds in over 306 government schools in Indian towns and cities. The fund is raised by Dr. Sunita Maheshwari and Dr. Arjun Kalyanpur who has been teaching in Yale University for 10 years. The number of admissions into these schools has risen up to 17 percent due to their contributions.
  • Architect Martina Spies and her team at Anukriti (organization) have built nine playgrounds, called "Urban Flowers", with local art and handicraft in slums of Mumbai and Chennai.

Favourite GD & GK Topic

One of the most favourite GD and GK topics on which questions are asked almost in every exam whether MBA, Civil Services, Bank PO or others is the How to provide outdoor sports facility to the children nearby. It is an important social and health issue on which questions are asked almost in every exam.

 

While GD carries a weightage of 10 to 20 percent in final selection process, the questions on GK or General Awareness form an important section with a weightage of 15 to 25% in almost all the national level MBA entrance tests including XAT, IIFT, SNAP. They are also the source of discussion during GD, PI, WAT, Extempore topics for MBA admission in IIMs, FMS, MDI, SPJIMR, XLRI and other highly ranked institutes.

 

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