SCOTLAND'S young people would much rather watch television or listen to music than take part in cultural activities or sport, according to new research published yesterday.
Nearly 90 per cent of 11- to 16-year-olds who took part in a survey for the Executive said they were most likely to watch DVDs and videos or listen to music in their spare time.
The other most popular activities included texting friends, surfing the internet, playing computer games and hanging about on the streets. By contrast, only 5 per cent of young people said they go to their local youth club in their spare time, while only 4 per cent visit museums.
When asked what they would like to become more involved in, more than a quarter of the 2,150 young people surveyed said "going clubbing", compared to only 14 per cent who wanted to take part in sport.
The findings come despite the fact that the Executive has pledged to get more young people taking part in physical activity.
An Executive spokeswoman insisted ministers were doing all they could to improve the health and fitness of the nation's young people.
She said: "We want children to have active, healthy lifestyles that will improve the quality of their lives in years to come. In schools, we're providing healthy school meals and we're increasing the amount of physical education that children get.
"We've also got an active schools programme which is about encouraging children to get involved in sport and other activities."
According to the survey, which was carried out by polling firm MORI, two-thirds of 11- and 12-year-olds take part in sport at least once a fortnight. However, by the time they reach 18 that figure has fallen to just 37 per cent.
Participation in music and the arts also falls dramatically in the teenage years, according to the survey.
More than 1,000 17- to 25-year-olds also took part in the survey, with 85 per cent saying that they enjoyed listening to music in their spare time.
When asked what they would like to do more often, 40 per cent of the older group said they wanted to attend more live music events, with 29 per cent saying they wanted to take part in more sport or go to the gym.
Judith Gillespie, of the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, said she was not surprised by the results. "Why do people think that kids are going to change the way they behave just because politicians have a bee in their bonnet about something?" she said.
"Thank goodness that young people have got the wit to behave as they always have done.
"The grown-up world has got to wake up to the fact that not all forms of exercise have to involve running around a pitch chasing a ball - there are lots of other things that kids do that are physically exerting."
Meanwhile, academics at Plymouth University yesterday said young children are being denied the chance to play because they spend so much time learning to read and write.
Dr Sue Rogers, who led the research, said: "Pressures on time and space, as well as the need to teach literacy, means that playing at shops, pirates and hospitals is difficult to fit into the timetable."
HARD AT PLAY
WHILE the vast majority of young Scots prefer a sedentary lifestyle, two Glasgow brothers are happy to buck the trend.
Calum and Niall MacLeod have represented Scotland at cricket more than 60 times between them and, by their own admission, have little time to watch television or to play computer games.
The brothers, who attend Hillpark Secondary School, train two nights a week and play matches for their club on a Saturday. And when they are not at the crease they are doing their homework.
Calum, 16, who is also a keen hockey player, said: "I enjoy it and would rather be active than sitting about watching the telly."
Niall, 13, said: "Some of my friends play a lot of football, but there are others who just sit around and do absolutely nothing."