In the survey of 840 parents, it was found that approximately 75 percent of children under 12 are not getting enough active free play, such as running around or riding bikes. What’s more, the issue becomes worse as children grow older. While 65 percent of one to four-year-olds experience a deficit of active free play, the number jumps to 77 percent among nine to twelve-year-olds. A lack of time was shown to be one of the biggest barriers to active free play for nearly one-third of children.
The Genius of Play, a nonprofit initiative dedicated to raising awareness of play’s vital role in child development, recently partnered with Fundamentally Children, a leading source of expert, independent advice on play and child development, in an international study to investigate whether children are receiving a healthy balance of various play activities.
“It’s crucial that children engage in different types of play that provide a variety of benefits,” said Ken Seiter, executive vice president of marketing communications at The Toy Association, the organization that spearheads The Genius of Play. “Active free play is key to healthy child development as it helps kids hone their gross motor and fine motor skills, while at the same time building social skills and fostering creativity. We work to provide parents with a multitude of play ideas that will help them carve out time for play in their children’s daily schedules.”
The research also found:
- Nearly two-thirds of one to four-year-olds may be missing out on structured social play, specifically sports games (57 percent) and board and card games (60 percent). Key skills are emerging during this age range and should be supported with social, physical, and cognitive play to aid in developing these skills.
- More than 68 percent of five through eight-year-olds are not getting the recommended amount of pretend play, such as playing with dolls or action figures. This type of play supports social and emotional development, which helps children cope with their emotions and develop empathy as well as create and maintain friendships.
Earlier this year, The Genius of Play released a Public Service Announcement, “Prescription for Play”, to remind parents about the benefits of playtime. The campaign features a play-deprived child and encourages parents to balance play alongside other priorities, such as school and extracurricular activities. “Prescription for Play” videos garnered millions of views, comments, and shares on social media, reaching more than 8 million parents and caregivers with this important message.
“Our study found that children of all ages do not currently get a balanced approach to play, which is necessary for healthy holistic development,” said Dr. Amanda Gummer, child psychologist and founder of Fundamentally Children. “The need to raise greater awareness of the benefits of play has become increasingly obvious, as parents need to feel empowered to prioritize playtime activities.”