The covid-19 pandemic has changed countless aspects of daily life, and the game of the little ones has been no exception. The impossibility dand go out the same as before and to relate in the same way has also made many aspects change in the way to enjoy leisure. Confinement led to more time to devote to recreational activities, which allowed children to escape from the uncertainty that gripped adults. Of course, with different guidelines to comply with the security measures imposed by the situation.
The role of play as a factor of evasion during confinement, as well as fun and learning, is one of the main aspects of the study carried out by the Technological Institute of Children’s and Leisure Products (Aiju), through more than 2,500 interviews with families carried out before the pandemic, in full confinement and already in the de-escalation. Together with the Toy Guide produced annually by the research center, which now reaches its 30th edition, was released. Yesterday it was presented at the entity’s headquarters in Ibi, with the assistance, among others, of the Minister of Economy Sustainable and Productive Services, Rafael Climent, and the president of the Spanish Association of Toy Manufacturers (AEFJ), José Antonio Pastor.
Children’s daily leisure time with toys has gone from three hours before the pandemic to four and a half hours. Of course, the confinement and insecurity that going out can cause due to the risk of contagion from the coronavirus has contributed to the fact that children play even less than before in open spaces. The forced changes in the way of relating have also increased the number of children who play with their parents by 67%, and those who play with their siblings by 46%. Likewise, the number of children who play alone has grown by 59%. However, playful activity with friends has decreased by 72% during these months.
The extra leisure time has been devoted mainly to crafts, board games, constructions and dolls. However, the exposure of the smallest to the screens has greatly increased. The use of video games has skyrocketed to 79% in children between 10 and 12 years old. Minors spend up to an hour and a half a day in front of a digital device. Television consumption has also increased by half an hour. The remote relationship through video calls has grown very significantly, as in adults, and also the use of the social network Tik Tok, as consumers and as content creators. However, it has been detected that children make more visits to natural spaces as a family, thus compensating in a certain way for the loss of physical activity and outdoor play.
This year the Aiju Guide contains 126 articles, produced by 31 different groups of companies. The president of the technological institute, Manuel Aragonés, stressed during the presentation that “the game continues to be one of the main distraction tools” for the little ones, and even more so in the current circumstances. The Minister of Economy also highlighted “the importance of the toy as a refuge and a way of learning”, as well as “a great ally of many households during confinement.” Rafael Climent stressed that this is “a time of disruption, resilience and change of habits.” In addition, he defended that toy stores are considered essential establishments in case there is a confinement again. “From my point of view they are,” he remarked. He thus picked up the glove launched a few days ago by the AEFJ, which stressed that the game has been “a way of normalizing the situation” for children in recent months.
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