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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 June 2018

Young flyers take just 49 minutes and 47 seconds to get restless, according to new study

Emirates has enlisted the services of a boredom specialist to help make flying more child-friendly

Keeping kids entertained on a flight can be a challenge for any parent. Courtesy Emirates
Keeping kids entertained on a flight can be a challenge for any parent. Courtesy Emirates

If you're a parent and you regularly travel with children, you'll be familiar with the nagging "Are we nearly there yet?" cries.

Young flyers take just 49 minutes and 47 seconds to get restless, according to research conducted by Emirates.

The survey of more than 2,000 UK-based parents also found that the top three worries for parents when travelling with the kids are: keeping them entertained (64 per cent), disturbing other passengers around them (43 per cent), and keeping the kids hydrated (23 per cent).

As many as 41 per cent of respondents admitted to bribing their little ones to with sweets, chocolates and crisps in exchange for good behaviour whilst on a flight. And a third of parents also said they relied heavily on so-called "electronic babysitters" - phones, tablets, games, apps and television shows - to get them through.

Activity packs and games can help keep children busy on a long-haul flight. Courtesy Emirates
Activity packs and games can help keep children busy on a long-haul flight. Courtesy Emirates

In order to help families fly more comfortably, Emirates has teamed up with a boredom specialist. Dr Sandi Mann from the University of Central Lancashire has joined forces with the airline to create what's being called a "Child Boredom Quotient", which aims to "help parents identify the exact moment their kids will get bored".

It was determined that little travellers between the ages of 3 and 4 were the most volatile.

“Parents of children ages 3 to 4 will start to find that this is when their children are physically very active, gaining independence and when they need more sophisticated things to entertain them than they did when they were younger," says Mann.

"For instance, the electronic babysitter, whilst popular for a flight, may not work for all age groups and parents of younger children will find that they have [a shorter] attention span for this than older ones. Breaking up this passive activity for active or creative ones will stop children becoming bored, restless and disruptive.’’

When engaging in an activity on-board, films were the most popular for keeping children occupied from about 40 minutes for the youngest age group (0-2) to 1 hourand 45 minutes for the oldest (11-12).

This is followed by games either on a smart device or on the inflight entertainment system (keeping kids occupied from 30 minutes for the youngest an hour and a half for the oldest).

Meanwhile, creative pursuits such as drawing was the most popular until age 9 when quizzes and puzzles become more engaging. Colouring and sticker books have most appeal for the younger ages.

Mann says: "Very young children don’t need very sophisticated toys for a plane journey and will be most amused by things in the environment – including people and of course their parents. For example, this could be ‘I Spy’ whilst, regular walks up the aisle are good for toddlers for exercise and for pre-toddles to change the visual environment. Don’t forget singing and interactive games like peekaboo are also great."

She says older children can be given simple materials like notebooks and pens, puzzle books and comics.

"Ensure that they take breaks every so often to walk up and down the plane and try to restrict the passive viewing just like you might at home. Don’t be afraid of them being bored as left to their own devices with a few basic materials, they will find creative ways to engage their brains.’’

Cabin crew supervisor Jade Cobbs encourages parents not to wait until boredom sets in, noting that most airline teams understand the challenge that comes with flying with children.

"Families can avoid the boredom threshold via some pre-prepared activities, interactive games or inflight entertainment," she says.

So, the next time you're flying remember that mixing things up and stopping an activity at the right time can minimise boredom and restlessness and make for a happier flight for everyone.

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Read more:

Travelling with kids: Holidaying with a new baby can have its teething problems

Travel secrets: well-run children’s clubs contribute to a fun family holiday

Flying old school: How to beat the boredom and avoid tantrums on electronics-banned flights

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