Dhaka University sociology professor Salma Akhter said the lifestyle in the capital was making children develop unhealthy habits, besides making them unsocial.
‘Children cannot spend much time in open spaces or in playgrounds, which was taking a toll on the physical and mental health of the school going children,’ she said.
Some of the worse outcomes of the lack of outdoor activities for children were obesity and overweight and becoming more and more alienated and unsocial, she said.
‘Children are now making them confined to indoor activities more as they don’t have social space and playground to pursue outdoor games,’ she said.
‘They are playing indoor games and computer games and getting obese while they are growing up without getting scopes for social and emotional development. Moreover, they cannot interact with other children going to the playground,’ Salma explained.
She also pointed out that it should be made mandatory to make arrangement for outdoor games in all the residential areas in the capital and other cities.
‘Or else, we will make our children cripple, physically and psychologically,’ she said.
Salma Akhter said that one of the alarming trend that had surfaced over the years was that fast food shops were making arrangements for indoor game corners for children.
As if the fast food shops were making arrangements for a healthier lifestyle for children, but they were actually alluring the children to their foods, she said.
Games facilities should be in the open space, not in an indoor arrangement, Salma argued.
Another matter of concern is that the big clubs were occupying playgrounds and restricting common use of the playgrounds by children, she noted.
When children of many localities were not given access to the existing playgrounds, since authorities allowed big clubs to occupy the playgrounds, it deprived them of a normal life, she said.
The professor suggested that still the grounds which were unused or used for other purposes or were rendered unusable over the years or had been occupied by influential quarters should be made available to children.
The open spaces which were still left in the residential areas should be turned into playgrounds other than using them for shopping malls or markets, she said.
Salma said that people often forget about the girl children and their needs for outdoor games.
‘Parents are worried about their safety and they are putting a restriction on their daughters’ outdoor activities, keeping them confined to their homes,’ she said.
The playgrounds should have separate spaces for girl children so that they could also get scope of playing outdoor games, she added.
Salma said, ‘Girls should not be victims of gender discrimination in terms of the chance to play and they should allow to venture outside to play, if they want with the boys. But the dedicated space for girls are needed if they feel uncomfortable playing with the boys or if the parents feels unsafe for them.’
She said that sometimes common use of a playground creates deprivation of lower aged children.
‘Sometimes the elder children occupy the grounds while the younger children cannot use the space for their needs,’ she said.
There should be age-wise zones in a playground so that children of different age groups would have equal opportunity to pursue outdoor games, she added.
The professor said the schools in the cities often did not have playgrounds nowadays. The schools should reach an agreement with the city authorities so that they could have an arrangement for their children to use playgrounds available in the surrounding areas.
She further suggested that the building codes should be updated to include provisions of playgrounds in the top floor for the children so that they can do physical activities.
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