Kauniainen parents woke up when Corona hit: “Children need to be encouraged to move much more – Children’s activity fell this spring by 35%”

A comprehensive six-month major survey carried out in Kauniainen for preschoolers is now finished. The study was the first of its kind in Finland and examined the effects of smart devices on preschoolers and their families. In the beginning parents were worried about children’s increased screen time. By the end the study showed how that parents were much more determined to fight against children’s passivity.

IRO Research implemented three survey waves. In addition a separate survey examined the effects of Corona on the everyday life of families and children. Families responded to more than 150 research questions, and wrote 3500 words of comments.

Children’s physical activity collapsed during the Corona lockdown

The program was launched in late December 2019. At that time, 83 percent of study participants 6 years of age had access to their own phone.

The study gave the city’s preschoolers access to the Xplora, designed to be a safe first phone for children. These watch-phones do not have access to social media or the Internet.

The study found that 93% of parents felt good about not exposing a child to dangerous or harmful content when using a watch-phone: “The wrist phone has postponed the purchase of a smartphone. My child knows that the watch-phone is primarily a means of communication and not a gaming machine.” – said a mother who participated in the study. The quality of open-ended feedback surprised research analysts, as the families’ responses focussed on their values and priorities.

The Xplora has a pedometer and a GPS tracker. 66% of parents used the GPS feature for their child’s location during the study period. They reported that knowing their child’s location increased their sense of security.

During the study, it became clear that the phones’ anonymous step-counter data showed the activity level of children in Finland had decreased by as much as 35% due to the Coronavirus. For this reason, a separate study was carried out on the subject.

Positive new operating models

“Active children are happy children. The results of the study confirm that children’s physical activity will continue to be a high priority in Kauniainen,” says Kauniainen Mayor Christoffer Masar. “We were happy to be involved with Xplora in the study. We received a lot of new information that will also help us in the development of the city. The results showed us that Kauniainen parents understand the continuing need to encourage children to move.

“The watch-phone is designed in such a way that it encourages children to move. When your hands are free, moving around is easier and safer.” The study revealed that a step counter linked to prizes inspired more activity from the children.

Inspired by this challenge Xplora decided to support Finland’s families in a special way and, with a physiotherapist, created a set of 10 basic moves for children that anyone can join.

When everyday life changed with Corona, parents managed to find many positive ways to adapt:

“We create our own day. We do school assignments and watch TV shows,” wrote one of the parents.”The watch-phone reduces conflicts over playing time and encourages movement,” wrote another parent.

58% of parents noticed that their child’s self-confidence had risen. After the introduction of the phone 15% of parents noticed that their child’s ability to concentrate was better.

CEO of Xplora Finland Timo Vaskio sees the research as nationally significant: “A happy childhood is not a dream but an extremely important goal. It is such an important issue that we must work together to achieve it. Right now, when school starts, issues around children’s mobility are top-of-mind. We are glad that the city of Kauniainen and the research families identified great ways to increase the safety and activity of families in other cities as well.”

Additional information:

Timo Vaskio, CEO, Xplora Mobile Oy, +358 40 517 0727
Kjetil Fennefoss, CEO, Xplora Mobile AS (Norway), +47 900 34337

Xplora will also arrange discussions for interested members of the press with parents of the families who participated in the study.