Children born after the turn of the millennium are weaker and less active than children born a decade earlier, researchers from the University of Essex have discovered.

They claim modern primary school children are less fit and muscular than children 10 years ago, meaning many are unable to carry out simple physical exercises that children once took for granted.

The scientists said that today's 10-year-olds can do fewer sit-ups than children of the late 1990s, and their ability to grip objects tightly has declined.

The experts attributed this on the rise of computer games and social networking.

Dr Gavin Sandercock, a child fitness expert at Essex University, told the Observer: "This is probably due to changes in activity patterns among English ten-year-olds, such as taking part in fewer activities like rope-climbing and tree-climbing.

"Typically, these activities boosted children's strengths, making them able to lift and hold their own body weight."

Posted by Robert Mair on 23.5.11 Comment on this article by sending it to: penny.hosie@pavpub.com