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PLAYTIME UPGRADED: British parents call for a technology revamp on outdoor play areas

New research, conducted by Virgin Media O2, shows that three fifths (60%) of British parents are concerned that their children aren’t getting enough stimulation through outdoor play, with seven in 10 (68%) believing that children should have more exposure to playgrounds modernised with technology.


Almost a fifth (17%) of parents admit they never take their children to local playgrounds, with almost two in five (37%) claiming their child doesn’t find a traditional playground interesting. Despite this, almost all parents (94%) feel that playing outside is important, with two thirds (66%) citing it as good for their child’s mental health.


Some (30%) parents have suggested that current playground equipment is outdated, with three in five (60%) believing that a playground enhanced with technology would be more enjoyable than a traditional play area.


And nearly half of parents (47%) feel that a playground modernised with technology would be more stimulating for their child.

To bring these findings to life, Virgin Media O2 has temporarily taken over a playground at Kings Square Gardens in Islington, London, and modified apparatus such as swings, slides and climbing frames to create a connected playground experience – powered entirely by its gigabit broadband and 5G mobile networks. By adding sensors, pressure pads and infrared beams, which react and respond to a child’s movement in real time, kids will be tasked with problem solving challenges as they play, which three quarters (75%) of British parents state playgrounds should include.


Developed in partnership with leading Child Psychologist, Professor Sam Wass, the park sets children the challenge to create their very own musical track as they navigate their way around the apparatus. Each interaction influences the pitch and tempo, adding another layer of sound to build a piece of music which can be heard through speakers throughout the playground. Once the child has completed the course, they can download their unique music track to take home and listen back to their masterpiece.


Professor Sam Wass, child psychologist and expert on Channel 4’s Secret Life of 4 and 5 Year Olds, said: “The scientific evidence is overwhelming now that spending time outdoors has both immediate and long-term benefits for children’s concentration and mood. But encouraging this as a parent can be hard because children’s expectations and what they get from digital play are constantly evolving. New hybrid environments, such as Virgin Media O2’s Connected Playground, may in future play a vital role in encouraging children to embrace technology in outdoor settings, and help provide children with the tools they need to think and play creatively.”


Gareth Lister, Director of Connectivity at Virgin Media O2, said: “Great connectivity has never been so integral to everyday life. From play to education, and everything in between, it sits at the heart of all that we do. Using our hyperfast gigabit broadband and 5G mobile networks, we created The Connected Playground to bring to life the boundless possibilities of connectivity. That’s why we’ll keep pushing boundaries and innovating so that our connectivity can continue to power new technologies and experiences of the future.”


Virgin Media O2’s Connected Playground at King Square Gardens is open to the public from Thursday 9th to Friday 10th March. For more information and to book a slot, please visit


Lisa Baker is Group Editor for the Need to See IT Publishing Group. Lisa writes about HR, Technology, Health, the Environment and Business.
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