Parents want children playing outside this summer, new research reveals

Wednesday 2 June 2021
  • New research by the NSPCC reveals parents think play has become more important for children because of the pandemic. Over half have also said their children have been more lonely 
  • The NSPCC announces a new partnership with Sky’s volunteering programme Sky Cares as the business gets behind the charity’s Childhood Day on the 11th June
  • The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky dedicates a whole fortnight to Childhood Day with a kid’s takeover


Some 79% of parents of children aged three to twelve think playing outside will be important for their child’s wellbeing this summer – and over half say that they think their children have been more lonely, the NSPCC has found.

In addition, 68% of parents surveyed said play has become more important for their children since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This comes as the online YouGov poll of 1,036 parents with children aged three to twelve revealed that 65% said their children have played inside more since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, and 70% have spent less time playing with friends.

As lockdown continues to ease, the NSPCC and Sky are teaming up to encourage people to play their part in giving children a great summer and a brighter future.

Sky shares this vision and as a result, has joined forces with the NSPCC to help drive and promote this very important cause. The new partnership forms a key part of the Sky Cares programme that offers Sky employees the chance to volunteer on company time and give back to their local communities. Sky will also use it platforms and reach to inspire action and increase awareness of the NSPCC’s work.

Sky will get behind the charity’s Childhood Day on the 11th June, which is calling on people across the UK to play, raise money and help keep children safe. But that’s just the beginning, Sky and the NSPCC will continue to work together in partnership, helping protect generations of children and raising crucial funds that support the charity’s work.

Whether you’re 5 or 85, the NSPCC is encouraging everyone to get involved on the 11th June and play with family, friends or workmates. The charity is encouraging people to sign up, download a fundraising pack and organise a play event to fundraise for the NSPCC.

Virgin Radio’s Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky is dedicating a whole fortnight to showing how important both fun and play are in how children explore the world – with parents encouraged to sign their children up for a kids’ takeover.

The YouGov poll revealed that during the pandemic children have done more arts and creativity including reading, drawing and painting, played more online and also played more pretend-based games like dress-up, role-play and acting-out stories.

Fully embracing Childhood Day’s play theme, Virgin Radio is quite literally ‘playing’ with the show by getting children to take over regular programme features from Monday 7th until Childhood Day on Friday 11th June.

Sky is also showing its support for Childhood Day by launching new content on Sky VIP, a brand new video tutorial featuring magician Ben Hanlin, learning a few magic tricks and encouraging families to play.

NSPCC’s CEO Peter Wanless said:

“We know the last year has been incredibly challenging for families and many children have missed out on the opportunity to play and really enjoy their childhood. Lots of children have felt lonely and isolated and have longed to be reunited with their friends and family again.

“After the year we’ve just experienced, we could all do with a bit more play and the research we are releasing today shows just how important it will be for families this summer. I’m incredibly excited to see the Sky and NSPCC partnership come to life and for Sky’s fantastic support for Childhood Day on the 11th June. Whether you’re 5 or 85,why not get involved and support Childhood Day by signing up, downloading a fundraising pack and organising a play event to raise vital funds for the NSPCC.”

Lyssa McGowan, Chief Consumer Officer at Sky said: The NSPCC is an incredible charity and we’re excited to be embarking on this new partnership as part of our Sky Cares programme. We hope to harness the power of Skys platforms to increase awareness of the NSPCCs vital work and the importance of safeguarding children.

“As a mother of three I appreciate that this has been a very challenging year for parents and children alike, I can’t wait to bring my family together on Childhood Day for a day of play that will help to keep children safe.”

Launched in 2019, Sky Cares now works with over 30 charity partners across four main focus areas: helping the homeless, alleviating loneliness, supporting young people and caring for the environment. By 2025 the Sky Cares programme aims to have volunteered 250,000 hours in the local community.

To find out more about Childhood Day and to get your free fundraising pack with lots of play ideas visit: nspcc.org.uk/childhood-day

For further information please contact Alice Harper in the NSPCC press office on 0203 772 9550 or email media@nspcc.org.uk

Notes to editors

The NSPCC conducted a survey with YouGov Plc of 1036 parents with children aged 3 to 12. Fieldwork was undertaken between 11th - 16th May 2021. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK parents with children aged 3 to 12 (aged 18+). Parents with more than one child were asked to think about the child whose birthday was next.

  • · Some 79% of parents of children aged three to twelve think playing outside will be important for their child’s wellbeing this summer
  • · Over half say that they think their children have been more lonely since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic (58%)
  • · In addition, 68% of parents surveyed said play has become more important for their children since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • · The online YouGov poll found that 65% said their children have played inside more since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, and 70% have spent less time playing with friends
  • · The YouGov poll also revealed that during the pandemic children have done more arts and creativity including reading, drawing and painting (57%), played more online (66%) and also played more pretend-based play like dress-up, role-play and acting-out stories (38%).

There are NSPCC spokespeople and case studies available.

About the NSPCC

The NSPCC is the leading children’s charity fighting to end child abuse in the UK and Channel Islands. Using voluntary donations, which make up around 90 per cent of our funding, we help children who’ve been abused to rebuild their lives, we protect children at risk, and we find the best ways of preventing child abuse from ever happening. So when a child needs a helping hand, we’ll be there. When parents are finding it tough, we’ll help. When laws need to change, or governments need to do more, we won’t give up until things improve.

Our Childline service provides a safe, confidential place for children with no one else to turn to, whatever their worry, whenever they need help. Children can contact Childline 365 days a year.

Our free NSPCC helpline provides adults with a place they can get advice and support, share their concerns about a child or get general information about child protection. Adults can contact the helpline 365 days a year.

About Sky

Sky is Europe’s leading media and entertainment company and is proud to be part of the Comcast group. Across six countries, we connect our 23.4 million customers to the best entertainment, sports, news and arts including our own award-winning original content.

Our technology, including the market leading Sky Q, connects people to everything they love – with entertainment from Sky TV, Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video and BBC iPlayer, and apps like Spotify, YouTube, BBC Sounds, Highbrow, Peloton, Fiit, and more, in one place, easy. Our streaming service NOW brings viewers all the enjoyment of Sky with the flexibility of a contract-free service. Through our new B2B broadband provider, Sky Connect, we offer superfast broadband with business-grade 4G back-up to small businesses in the UK.

Building on the success of Sky Originals like Chernobyl, Gangs of London and Brassic, we are doubling our investment in original content by 2024 through Sky Studios. Sky News provides impartial and trustworthy journalism for free, Sky Arts is the UK’s only dedicated free-to-air arts channel making the arts accessible for everyone and Sky Sports, our leading sports broadcasting service, brings customers some of the biggest and best global sporting events from the Premier League to Formula 1 and everything in-between. Our new TV and movie studio, Sky Studios Elstree, which will open in 2022, is expected to create over 2,000 new jobs and generate an additional £3 billion of production investment in the UK over the first five years.

We believe that we can be a force for good in the communities in which we operate. We’re committed to being Europe’s first net zero carbon entertainment company by 2030 and we’re proud to be a Principal Partner and Media Partner of COP26. We take pride in our approach to diversity and inclusion: we’ve been recognised by The Times and Stonewall for our commitment to diversity and we’ve set ambitious 2025 targets to continue to increase diversity and representation. We’re also committed to investing £30million across our markets over three years to improve our approach to diversity and inclusion, and to tackle racial injustice.

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