New Let’s Play study: Kids want to play more, but they think video games count

Davis Beauvais, 12, climbs on a jungle gym in the Zilker Playground on April 9. TAMIR KALIFA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Do your kids play anymore? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wants them to, at least 60 minutes of activity a day every day, but are they doing that?

Dr Pepper Snapple Group released the results of its Let’s Play State of Play survey for 2017.

The survey polled a nationally-representative sample of tweens (age 9-12 children) and parents of children between the ages of 5-17 living in the household. The survey was fielded between March 29 and April 6, 2017.

What it found continues the downward trend:

  • Almost 7 out of 10 parents blamed their busy schedules for why their kids didn’t play.
  • More than 50 percent of tweens wished they had more time for play and sports.
  • 81 percent of kids considered playing a video game or being on a device playing.
  • Kids are on screens 8.4 hours a day on the weekend, 4.8 hours a day on the weekday.

In 2015, the Let’s Play study found that kids stop playing at age 9.  RELATED: ONLY 26 PERCENT OF 9-YEAR-OLDS PLAY EVERY DAY

How do we get our kids playing again? We have to play ourselves, right? We have to make playing part of our regular day.

Here are 10 ideas to get going:

  1. Have play equipment easy to find and at the ready. Store your balls, rackets and bikes in an accessible place in the garage that kids can easily grab and start paying.
  2. Invite friends for regular, scheduled play dates without electronics. You collect the electronics at the door.
  3. Enroll kids in a sports camp or class. See what your parks and recreation department has to offer or YMCA. Summer is a great time to try a new activity.
  4. Incorporate pets. Have the kids walk the dog or teach the dog new tricks outside.
  5. Set up a family obstacle course. Let the kids help you create the games. You could even have teams and invite the extended family to join you.
  6. Incorporate a walk or bike ride after dinner. Do it as a family. You might get some push back for awhile, but eventually it will become routine.
  7. Install a basketball hoop outside, a volleyball net in your yard. Then use them.
  8. Go swimming pool hopping. Check out different pools around Central Texas. Kids can even rate them.
  9. Find new places to hike nearby. We can recommend the trails behind the Austin Nature & Science Center, Mary Moore Searight Metropolitan Park, and Mayfield Park.
  10. Find a new-to-you playground. We love Zilker Park, Lake Park in Mueller neighborhood and Play for All in Round Rock, but I bet there are a lot of playgrounds we haven’t considered. We’d love to hear about your favorites.  Email them to or make a comment below.



Author: Nicole Villalpando

Nicole Villalpando writes about families in the Raising Austin blog and the Raising Austin column on Saturdays. She also offers a weekly and monthly family calendar at She tweets at @raisingaustin.

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