Study: Majority of Youth-Sport Parents Report Kids' Health Declined Amid Pandemic

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In a study of about 2,000 parents released by TeamSnap recently, a majority of respondents said their children’s health declined during the COVID-19 pandemic.

TeamSnap, which provides sports management and communication software for amateur sports, released the results Thursday of its study exploring the effects of the pandemic on young people and youth sports. The research was produced in collaboration with The Aspen Institute’s Sports & Society Program, Families in Sport Lab at Utah State University, and Louisiana Tech University’s Minds in Motion Lab.

According to the release, the study found that the majority of parents (52 percent) reported that their children’s mental health and physical fitness decreased during the pandemic.

The survey included 2,097 parents over the age of 18. It was conducted online and included TeamSnap users within the United States and Canada between April 13 and May 3, 2021, the release said.

Top findings from the study include:

  • Mental health and physical fitness declined among young people: More than half of parent respondents reported that their children’s mental health (52%) and physical fitness (53%) decreased during the pandemic, and nearly half of parents said their children’s emotional control (48%) and social wellbeing (45%) decreased as well.
  • Having fun, mental health and physical fitness are parents’ top three goals for youth sports: Parents say the most important outcome of playing sports is having fun (95% of respondents), followed closely by supporting mental health (89%) and enhancing physical fitness (88%). However, parents indicated that their children’s achievement of these goals during the pandemic was significantly lower, with only about half of parents (54%) saying their children did very well with having fun, and even less (52%) saying their children did very well with supporting mental health and enhancing physical fitness.
  • Social distancing and lockdowns increased children’s screen time: The pandemic had significant effects on the activities children were involved in, as their time spent in organized sport, in free play, at school, and with friends decreased greatly (69%, 60%, 68%, and 72% of parents respectively), while their screen time increased dramatically. In fact, 8 in 10 parents (82%) said that their children’s screen time increased or greatly increased during the pandemic.
  • Community responses to COVID-19 were looked at more favorably than national responses: The more distant an entity is from a family, the less satisfied parents were with their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly 3 in 4 parents (74%) were satisfied with their child’s coach’s response to the pandemic, while only 40% were satisfied with their state’s response, and even less (33%) were satisfied with their country’s response.

“Through this study, we’ve learned so much about the impact of the pandemic on young athletes’ lives, as well as the connection between organized sports, social development, and overall well being,” said Tom Farrey, Aspen Institute Sports & Society Program executive director.

The research will help shape the growing conversation about the important role of sports in youth development and the wide-ranging negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Throughout the pandemic, the abrupt pause of youth athletics left kids without an environment to gather with their friends and teammates,” said Peter Frintzilas, TeamSnap CEO. â€śUnfortunately, the isolation of this period had negative impacts on the mental health, physical fitness, and emotional wellbeing of this emerging generation of bright and talented young athletes. By exploring these impacts with the help of two universities and The Aspen Institute, we aim to gain a deeper understanding of how the lives of those in our sports communities have changed, so we can be an even more valuable resource to help parents get kids away from the screen and back out onto the field.”

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