Study: UAE kids most tech-addicted

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Parents have been complaining about their children spending too much time in front of screens since the invention of television, and since the rise of technology, fewer youngsters are spending time outside, favouring their tech devices in their bedrooms, notes online contact lens retailer Lenstore.

With excessive screen time leaving us exposed to a number of health issues such as obesity, sleep problems, chronic neck and back problems, depression, anxiety as well as many other health conditions, we want to find out the true impact technology has on our children.

Lenstore has conducted a study to determine the most tech-addicted children and the impact it is having on the next generation. By analysing metrics such as child obesity, daily time spent on the Internet and the level of physical activity for children, the study uncovers where in the world the most tech-addicted kids live.

The study also looks at how the level of physical activity among British children has changed over the years, as well as how often they are going outside to play.

It turns out children in the UAE are most addicted to their phones. As a result of a poor physical activity score of 17 (this score shows a low percentage of UAE children meeting the guideline of 60 minutes of physical activity every day) and reaching a high daily Internet time of over seven hours, the Western Asia country takes the crown as being home to the most tech-addicted children.

In second place is the United States. With a sedentary behaviour mark of 11, less than half of US children adhere to the recommended 2 hours or less of screen time per day. Brazil rounds off the top three countries. With an overall physical score of 11 and a sedentary behaviour mark of 12, less than half of Brazilian children are following the recommended exercise or screen time guidelines.

At the other end of the scale is India. Here is where you will find the children less addicted to their tech devices. The rate of child obesity is falling in this nation, thus it has been estimated to have a child obesity rate of 2 per cent by 2025. The South Asia country has received a score of 9 for sedentary behaviours, which indicates nearly half of Indian youths are meeting the screen time advice.

Kids are becoming less active, with less than half meeting daily physical activity guidelines

According to Gov.uk, children from the ages of 0 – 5 years old should be encouraged to be active for at least 180 minutes a day, whilst those between 5 – 18 years old should aim for at least 60 minutes daily.

A study by Sport England found that just over four in 10 children and young people are achieving 60+ minutes of exercise daily. While one in three children were active for less than 30 minutes a day.

With 51 per cent of children typically aged between 11 – 13 achieving daily exercise of 60 minutes or more during the term year 2019/20, this group were found to be the most active. On the other hand, the data shows that children aged between 7 – 9  to be the least active. Only 38 per cent of children in this age bracket were found to be active for 60 minutes or more each day — the majority were physically active for less than 30 minutes a day (39 per cent). This in fact is a 15 per cent increase from the previous year, which saw 34 per cent of kids between the ages of  7 – 9  achieving less than 30 minutes of exercise.

The amount of time youngsters are spending outdoors is on the decline — a study by the People and Nature Survey for England found that over a six-year period starting from 2013/14, there has been a steep decline in the amount of time children spend time outdoors without an adult — originally at 22 per cent in 2013/14, that number has dropped to 17 per cent, highlighting a 23 per cent fall.

Only 10 per cent of children spent time outside with their friends of a similar age over the period of 2018/19 (which was a 23 per cent drop from 2013/14) while just 5 per cent took a trip outdoors by themselves.

At the same time, the amount of children that spent time outdoors accompanied by adults has seen a decline — initially at 78 per cent in 2013/14 this figure has dropped significantly by 8 per cent to 72 per cent in 2018/19.

The data also found that within a 12-month period, almost 1 in 5 children under 5 years old never spent time outdoors.

“Prolonged screen time will not only have an effect on children’s physical activity levels but could also have long-lasting effects on their eyesight,” warns Roshni Patel, professional services manager at Lenstore. “With phones and computers becoming a part of learning and leisure time for children — the amount of time they have logged staring at a screen has increased. Unfortunately, this extended use of digital screens without breaks can cause eye strain and soreness. There are concerns that this may increase the risk of them developing short-sightedness or cause further progression for those who already suffer with it.”

“Children should be taking regular breaks from screens and also spending time outdoors. However, when they’re having screen time, the correct adjustment should be made to avoid any eye problems,” she advises.

The countries with the most tech-addicted children are:

Rank Country 2025 Child Obesity Prevalence Prediction Daily Time on the Internet (Hrs) Sedentary

Behaviours Score *

Overall Child Physical Activity Score*
1 United Arab Emirates 18% 7:24 9 17
2 United States of America 27% 7:11 11 12
3 Brazil 12% 10:08 12 11
4 New Zealand 19% 6:39 11 12
5 China 9% 5:22 17 17
6 Australia 15% 6:13 12 12
7 Mexico 17% 9:00 12 10
8 Belgium 8% 5:28 8 17
9 Thailand 11% 8:44 12 12
10 Germany 10% 5:26 12 12

*Each country was awarded a score from 1 to 18. The higher the number, the worse sedentary behaviour or physical activity was deemed to be. 

The locations with the lowest rates of tech-addicted children:

Rank Country 2025 Child Obesity Prevalence Prediction Daily Time on the Internet (Hrs) Sedentary

Behaviours Score *

Overall Child Physical Activity Score*
1 India 2% 6:36 9 11
2 Netherlands 8% 5:28 9 8
3 Spain 12% 6:11 4 11
4 Sweden 7% 6:15 7 10
5 Colombia 7% 10:07 10 10

*Each country was awarded a score from 1 to 18. The higher the number, the worse sedentary behaviour or physical activity was deemed to be.


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