April 3 (UPI) -- A study from the University of Eastern Finland suggests parents with low education and income levels were associated with less physical activity levels and increased screen time in their children, especially in boys.
Researchers analyzed physical activity levels and sedentary behavior in children and the link to parents' income and education levels based on questionnaires on 238 girls and 248 boys ages 6 to 8 years old.
Children from families with the lowest income and education levels were two times less likely to take part in a supervised physical activity compared to children from higher income and education levels.
Boys whose parents had low education levels had lower levels of overall physical activity and spent nearly five hours more per week on screen time compared to other boys.
"These significant differences in children's amount of physical activity, caused by their different socio-economic backgrounds, are a cause of concern especially among boys," Eeva Lampinen, a researcher at the University of Eastern Finland, said in a press release. "Tools for increasing the amount of physical activity and reducing screen time should be made available to children coming from families with the lowest socio-economic backgrounds in particular."
The recommended daily amount of physical activity for children in Finland is two hours a day. Researchers found that the average daily amount of physical activity was 1.7 hours for girls and two hours for boys.
The study showed that 44 percent of girls and 56 percent of boys got the recommended two hours a day of physical activity, but half of the children had more than the recommended two hours of screen time a day.
"A delightfully positive thing about our findings is the fact that the majority of children's daily physical activity was unsupervised," Lampinen said. "This shows that it is not necessary to engage in supervised sports to get the recommended amount of exercise."
The study was published in the European Journal of Sport Science