More than half of 9-year-olds in Ireland have a mobile phone, new research finds

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The number of children participating in sports, music and dancing is falling, as well as the number of children reading outside of school.

The Growing Up in Ireland report looked at how the lives of nine-year-olds have changed over the past decade and the results were startling.

The number of children participating in sports, music and dancing is falling, as well as the number of children reading outside of school.

ESRI research found that spending more time watching television or screens makes children less likely to engage in other activities.

Only 34% of children play sports every day, while 44% take music or dance lessons.

This represents a drop of 10% for those who were nine years old ten years ago.

Today, more than half of nine-year-olds are armed with their own phone, another 10% increase from 2008.

Research shows that gender makes a big difference in how Irish nine-year-olds perceive the world.

Girls are found to be closer to their parents and have less conflict, while boys have smaller friend groups and see their friends less often.

Girls are more likely to read for pleasure, but less likely to play sports. They also spend less time on digital devices than boys.

Girls are generally more positive about school, but much less positive about math.

ESRI says that opinion grows even more over time.

“There are worrying trends in children’s participation in sports, cultural activities and reading, activities that enhance their development,” said report author Professor Emer Smyth.

“Continued efforts by schools and libraries will be crucial in trying to reverse the decline in reading for pleasure seen in many groups of children.”

Professor Smyth told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that research into Irish children was important in bringing about urgent change.

She said the change in children’s activities could be due to screen time.

“We’re seeing a shift in the type of screen time, an increase in the proportion of cellphones, and a shift from television to other devices,” she said.