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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Rutgers: Study Finds Children Spend Less Time Reading and Engaging in Physical Activity as They Grow Older

A new study from Rutgers School of Public Health and Queen’s University Belfast researchers has found that children from disadvantaged backgrounds spend less time reading and engaging in physical activity and exercise than their peers as they get older.

The study was carried out by researchers in the Department of Health Behavior, Society, and Policy at the Rutgers School of Public Health and the Queen’s Management School, the Geary Institute for Public Policy at University College Dublin.

The team examined how children’s time use changes as they grow up. The research was based on diary data from two waves of a nationally representative longitudinal cohort study in Ireland, the Growing Up in Ireland survey. They measured children’s activities at age 9, and again for the same children when they were aged 13, focusing on the after-school period on normal school days.

The researchers also studied whether the differences in SES that they saw were more closely tied to family income or education. They found that the strongest associations are between mother’s education and children’s time use. The exception was that family income plays an important role in differences in time spent on sport/physical exercise, though only for boys.

“How children spend their time has important implications for their emotional, social, and cognitive development, and consequently for their future,” said Dr. Slawa Rokicki an Instructor at the Rutgers School of Public Health and lead study author. “Activities such as sports and exercise promote growth through the development of attention, self-regulation, and self-esteem, and also foster healthy behaviors.”

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