Arecent study has found that excessive pressure of studies, lack of playgrounds and a perceived insecurity of the outdoors deny our children the opportunity to play in the capital, causing irreparable physical and mental damage to them. The study has also found that girls play less outdoors than boys because of lack of security. These findings serve as a reminder as to how we have failed to give our children a healthy childhood by denying them their right to play.
A recent BBS survey has found that only two percent of Dhaka children have access to playgrounds. Over the years, many of the playgrounds and open spaces in Dhaka have been encroached upon by influential land grabbers—some of them have been turned into community centres, kitchen markets, rickshaw garages or parking lots. Those that are still there are under the threat of being grabbed and turned into commercial or residential plots. Also, the available playgrounds in the capital are neither accessible to children nor child-friendly, particularly for girls.
As a consequence, children in this city are spending more time watching TV, playing video games, using computers and smartphones, etc. A 2017 study found that nearly 80 percent teenagers of Dhaka have more than two hours of screen time a day, while one-third of them spend less than an hour on physical activities. These children are at high risk of depression and other health problems.
Since a lack of sports or physical activities impedes children's physical and mental growth, we must ensure that they have sufficient playtime outdoors. And to be able to do that, they must have more playgrounds in the city which the government must provide by recovering the existing ones from the clutch of the land grabbers.