MONROVIA – Deterioration in open areas and loss of playgrounds across Liberia has induced hundreds of children to engage in smart phones and have increased their TV screen time.
A report by Common Sense Media, a non-for-profit dedicated to helping children, parents, and educators navigate the world of media and technology, stated that in 2013, children spent about 15 minutes a day staring at the mobile screen and now they spend 48 minutes a day.
The report also established that 42% of children aged 8 and younger now have their own electronic devices such as tablets and phones, which is a steep rise from 7% four years ago and less than 1% in 2011.
This may be overlooked, but the lack of open spaces such as parks and playgrounds account for some of the key reasons why nowadays children in various cities and towns across this county spend most of their time indoor, playing video games, watching television, and browsing the internet.
Evidently, one of the key factors informing lack of physical activity–one of the greatest contributors of childhood overweightness and regression, as well as severe mental health issues during childhood.
It is rapidly making many children across Liberia to cultivate antisocial behaviors that minimized social interaction with their peers and parents.
Quiet recently, Health Education Research stated that children who spent 3 to 4 hours of play in a day are more interactive with their family, friends and teachers as compared to those who play outdoor for 30 minutes or less than that.
Since the end of war, it is generally observed that Liberian Children neither play at school or home as many communities and educational facilities lack open air playgrounds.
Realizing the significant negative impact of lack of playgrounds in its host communities, ArcelorMittal Liberia is demonstrating its readiness to fill the gap, especially in its host communities.
Therefore, given the lack of lecture activities in communities in Bong and Nimba Counties, AML is helping to design and construct play parks.
The playgrounds-one in the Nimba mining town of Yekapa, and another in its concession area in Grand Bassa County have been being attended by hundreds of children.
They will become essential safe spaces where children can be themselves and express their fun-loving nature while developing crucial cognitive, physical, and imaginary abilities.
To put it simply, the AML’s playground initiative is a spontaneous community development drive built on the foundation of sound early childhood development.
ArcelorMittal understands that without being able to play, children’s ability to develop and learn is stunted just as eating and sleeping are essential to a child’s health, so too is play.
We have reliably gathered that in the coming months three additional playgrounds will be constructed by ArcelorMittal in Nimba County alone with plans to expand same to Grand Bassa and Bong, also affected by its operations.
They will provide different structures and spaces and give children the freedom to choose how they want to play and as well explore their own natural tendencies, interact with a broader range of age groups, and awaken their creative instincts.
Many Liberian settlements, large and small lack open space playgrounds which are ideally problematic for early childhood development.