Rarely a week goes by when we don’t seem to be sticking the boot into the nation’s youth in some way,
They’re either not performing well enough in school tests, or bullying each other over the internet, or terrorising old ladies on the street.
The latest bad PR comes in the form of a report declaring that “video game-obsessed Scots children are among the least active in the world”, highlighting our youngsters’ idle ways and love of anything with a screen to stare at.
In fact, this “global matrix” report by Strathclyde University was based purely on the results from 15 countries, although Scotland did perform poorly in several of the areas measured, including failure to meet exercise guidelines and doing too many sedentary activities.
Experts recommend children and young people do at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day. But it appears the appeal of TV and computer games makes Scottish youngsters more likely to shun their trainers for their consoles.
One easy solution to meeting this guideline would be to increase PE lessons in school.
Maybe an hour a day is too much to expect, but if teens could do at least half that, there’s a chance the rest could be made up after school – even if it’s just by cycling home.
But with so much crammed into the average school day, it seems exercise is often squeezed out. After all, there are those school test results we need to worry about.
With the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow just a couple of months away, many are hoping we’ll achieve a lasting legacy of increased physical activity and enthusiasm for sport. But this is by no means guaranteed.
While we now have some splendid sporting venues and there are signs of increased interest in sports clubs, will the enthusiasm last long after the banners that now adorn Glasgow’s streets are taken down?
There are no easy solutions to increasing activity levels for young people or the nation as a whole. But we do need to make it as easy as possible for people to build exercise into their daily lives.
A bonfire should be built and every sign on common land in Scotland declaring “No Ball Games” burnt. Our roads need to be made safer for cyclists to use without fear of injury.
Pedestrians, too, are poorly served, especially during the winter months when cars enjoy freshly gritted roads, while even Torvill and Dean would struggle to make their way along our icy pavements.
So before the next kicking of lazy young Scots commences, perhaps we could spare a thought for some of the obstacles that stand in their way.