• Children in Saudi Arabia spend an average of 2 hours and 42 minutes on mobile devices — the third highest duration of the 10 countries surveyed.
• WhiteWater aims to help accomplish the Vision 2030 goal of establishing more than 600 entertainment attractions in the Kingdom by 2030.
• Waterparks offer family members the opportunity to engage with children in a more constructive way.
Riyadh: Playing and outdoor fun have undergone a huge transformation over the past 20 years, as new technology-based games and fun activities have turned kids homeward, where they spend most of their time in isolation, glued to their personal devices such as mobile phones, tearing the family bond apart and making it a matter of concern for both parents and social scientists. According to Healthline, the increased use of smartphones can lead to anxiety, depression, and related mental health problems.
Nearly 70% of parents agree their kids spend too much time online, compromising not just their childhood fun, but also exposing themselves to various potential risks, according to research from Norton by Symantec.
The research, which involved nearly 7,000 people including children aged 5-16 in the Middle East and Europe, found that children in Saudi Arabia spend an average of 2 hours and 42 minutes on mobile devices — the third highest duration of the 10 countries surveyed.
Engaging in play activities outside of homes, including climbing trees and running around fields, appear to have become a thing of the past for kids. To bring back children out of this self-imposed insidious isolation, the Kingdom plans to build more water parks involving multi-generational play. Waterparks create space where the entire family, regardless of age, can come together and spend the day in each other’s company.
The Family Bond in Saudi Society
According to Pew Research, extended family households, where children, parents, grandparents and other relatives live together, are the most common living arrangement around the world. The same is true in Saudi Arabia where extended families make a strong bond.
Yet, a recent study found that 82% of Saudi parents set a bad example by spending too much time online. The presence of waterparks can help encourage families to put their devices down and engage in activities, and spend healthy time together and improve their quality of life.
Accomplishing Vision 2030 Goal
WhiteWater, the world’s leading manufacturer and designer of aquatic equipment, aims to increase the number of aquatic attractions in Saudi Arabia to enhance the quality of life of Saudi society and help accomplish the Vision 2030 goal of establishing more than 600 entertainment attractions in the Kingdom by 2030.
WhiteWater seeks to boost the quality of life by bringing traditional fun and play activities back to the public space, through the establishment of several waterparks.
Demand for Multi-Generational Fun
When it comes to fun water activities for families in the Kingdom, there are not many choices.
“WhiteWater is actively working on five new sites to help fill the space for family entertainment in Saudi Arabia as the country has limited options at the moment for such outdoor fun,” said Jeremy Gray, vice president of business development, WhiteWater.
“A waterpark is the perfect place for families to enjoy time together because there is something for every age group. These destinations work to erase the lines dividing the generations and bring them together,” Gray added.
Ending Generation Gap
Waterparks offer family members the opportunity to engage with children in a more constructive way. For example, the Wave Pool – a common attraction in WhiteWater parks — enables grandparents to interact and play more easily with kids as the water’s buoyancy helps to facilitate movement. The Wave Pool’s shallow end offers mellow waves, enabling all generations to have fun together.
Another option is the Lazy River, which doubles as a relaxing way for the family to spend time floating alongside one another; it can also provide an easy way of navigating around the waterpark without having to walk. With the facility of a multi-level aquatic play structure, designed with ground-level activities, even older family members can stay in one place and engage with young children through numerous features, such as spray toys, jets, and tipping buckets.
Creating a Shared Experience
There are plenty of opportunities for family members to make their time memorable at the waterpark. For example, they can climb up a slide tower and enjoy a number of water slides.
“On these slides, the entire family can exchange laughs and screams together,” Gray said, adding: “A favorite is the Family Raft Ride, where three or more individuals can enjoy the water slide at the same time.”
Families will cherish such a shared experience as they create memories and later on talk about their favorite parts of the ride – whether it is the extreme drops, uphill blasts, or 360-degree revolutions.