The COVID-19 pandemic presented novel barriers to youth physical activity engagement. Identifying what resources parents and children are interested in receiving can support efforts to mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic on youth physical activity behavior. This study aimed to identify physical activity-related information needs during the COVID-19 pandemic among a nationally representative sample of American parents of children 6–10 years-old and parent-child dyads of children 11–17 years-old.
A cross-sectional survey was conducted by a market research company in October–November 2020. Parents and children were asked about their interest in specific types of information about helping their family and themselves, respectively, be active (Yes/No). Weighted percentages were calculated for reported information needs and compared using two-sample test of proportions.
Final analytic sample was 1000 parents (55.4% female; 74.7% White; 74.0% non-Hispanic); 500 children 11–17 years-old (52.1% male; 77.6% White). Over 40% of participants were interested in information about being active during COVID-19. Parents were more likely to be interested in information if they always (versus never) worked from home [53.3% (95% CI: 43.3–63.0%) versus 22.0% (95% CI: 14.9–31.3%), p < 0.001]; had children attending school remotely versus in-person [47.3% (95% CI:40.2–54.5%) versus 27.5% (95% CI: 19.6–37.1%), p < 0.001]; and lived in a big city versus a rural area [66.5% (95% CI:54.5–76.7%) versus 34.1% (95% CI: 22.8–47.6%), p < 0.001]. Children most interested were those who did not have resources for online activity engagement and those worried about their safety or getting infected with COVID-19. Children were also more likely to be interested if their parents worked full-time versus not working [48.6% (95% CI:41.7–55.6%) versus 31.5% (95% CI: 24.1–39.9%), p < 0.001], and lived in a big city versus a rural area [57.2% (95% CI:45.3–68.3%) versus 27.8% (95% CI:17.8–40.7%), p < 0.001].
Families are interested in physical activity resources, particularly those whose daily routines and opportunities for physical activity may have been most significantly impacted by the pandemic. This includes parents who always worked from home or whose children attended school remotely. Identifying felt needs is an important step in developing tailored interventions that aim to effectively and sustainably support families in promoting physical activity.