Boys find it harder to concentrate at school, ESRI study finds
Girls also scored higher than boys in social skills such as empathy and self-control
The study found children reported to be overweight or who had a poor diet were more likely to come from lower income families. Photograph: Dave Thompson/ PA Wire
Young boys find it more difficult than girls to concentrate in school, according to a new study from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
The Growing Up in Ireland study examined problems facing children aged seven and eight, and found that 19 per cent of boys said sitting still and listening in school was difficult, compared to 8 per cent of girls.
The study found children reported to be overweight or who had a poor diet were more likely to come from lower income families. Some 27 per cent of children from families in the lowest income range were overweight or obese, compared with 16 per cent of children from families in the highest income bracket.
More than a third (36 per cent) of children from socially disadvantaged families had a low quality diet, compared to 17 per cent of children whose parents came from a professional or managerial background, the study found.
Girls scored higher than boys across a series of measures when it came to social skills such as empathy, self-control and relationships.
Boys were more likely to spend time playing computer games and physically active games than girls, who primarily reported enjoying music, crafts, reading and dance activities.
The average reported time spent in front of a screen was between one and two hours a day during weekdays, and more than three hours a day at weekends.
The ESRI study outlined the amount of time a child spent looking at a screen varied depending on the educational attainment of their mother. Some 23 per cent of seven and eight year olds whose mother had a Junior Certificate qualification or less spent more than three hours looking at screens, compared to 6 per cent of children whose mother had a third-level degree.
The study, funded by the Department of Children, looked at how 5,000 young children were developing across a range of issues including health, education, and emotional development.
A second ESRI report published as part of the study found the cost of attending the General Practitioner (GP) was a barrier to children who did not have a medical card or private health insurance.
The study looked at a group of children when they were nine months old and three years old, and found children with either private health cover or a medical card had “a significantly higher” number of visits to their GP a year, than those who had no cover.
The number of visits per year increased by 25 per cent when a child got access to free GP care through a medical card or GP visit card.