The indoor generation: They can't swim and don't need a teddy but kids can use their iPad before they learn to tell time
A growing number of children in Yorkshire can use an iPad before they have learned to tell the time, a survey has found.
Nearly two-thirds of youngsters in the region now own or have access to a digital tablet, and in a further shift from tradition, one in three do not have a teddy bear.
The digital age is threatening not only tree-climbing and playing out until sunset, but also the simple skill of riding a bike, which is becoming a lost art among two to 12-year-olds, the survey found.
Of the children questioned, 67 per cent said they could confidently manoeuvre around an iPad, 52 per cent could take a video using the sharing app Snapchat and 69 per cent could complete a level on the game Candy Crush, in which players compete to win representations of sweets.
In contrast, more than one child in three cannot swim, half do not know how to tie their shoe laces and 41 per cent struggle to play a sport.
And while 41 per cent of children do not own a football, nearly as many admit to playing FIFA “virtual soccer” games on the PlayStation console.
The survey, by British Military Fitness, was released to mark the start of the Easter school holidays in some towns, which, despite the improving weather, children will spend largely inside and online.
On average, youngsters will remain in the house for nearly seven days, the survey found, despite a third of parents worrying about their children’s use of digital devices.
Nearly half of parents said they were worried about their children’s safety online but only a fifth were concerned about the effects on their social lives.
A quarter of parents said they struggled to get their children to play out at all.
The old threat of “being grounded” as a form of punishment was no longer effective for 97 per cent of parents, whose children preferred to be indoors. Some families were resorting to “digital bans” as an alternative.
A spokesman for British Military Fitness, which encourages children to go outdoors, even if just to walk the dog, said: “Modern-day children are missing out on key skills we had as kids.
“Our research reveals that we are an unhealthy generation and this is having a negative impact on the health of our kids.
“More children are able to navigate a tablet or smartphone than ride a bike or swim.”
Garry Kerr, head of operations and training at the organisation, said children as young as two had complained of being “too tired” to play out.
He said: “We know we have a problem on our hands. The average child in Britain is expected to spend nearly seven whole days of their two-week Easter break inside and online. This raises huge concerns around not only their health, but their development, social life and education, too.”
He said the survey would fuel the debate on the rise of childhood obesity and raise questions on who was to blame.
Children were growing up without “vital life skills” and were missing out on childhood activities because of their over-reliance on digital devices, he added.
Mr Kerr said: “In their youth, children should be at their most energetic and healthiest. We are urging parents to think of the consequences nearly seven days of online use will have on their health.”
Since their launch in 2010, the iPad and rival tablets have been adopted by an estimated two-thirds of internet users, with the figure predicted to rise to nearly three-quarters by 2019.