a must-have Duo for mental health
A study led by the University of Exeter asked parents how often their children engage in “thrilling and engaging” play, where they may experience some fear and uncertainty.
The study comes at a time when children today have fewer opportunities to do risky play outside of adult sight, such as climbing a tree, riding a bike, jumping from a high surface or playing elsewhere. which are out of sight of adults.
With funding from the UKRI Future Leaders Scholarship, the team surveyed nearly 2,500 parents with children aged 5-11. Parents completed questionnaires about their child’s play, their general mental health (before Covid), and their mood during the first COVID-19 lockdown.
The study was conducted with two groups of parents: a group of 427 parents living in Northern Ireland and a nationally representative group of 1919 parents living in the United Kingdom (England, Wales and Scotland).
The researchers found that Children who spend more time playing outside have fewer internal problems, especially anxiety and depression. Those kids were also more active during the first lockdown.
Let us encourage children to play
The effects were relatively small, as expected given the many factors that influence children’s mental health. However, the results remained consistent even after the researchers calculated a range of demographic variables including children’s sex, age, parental employment status, etc., and mental health of parents.
The UK group study also found this effect was more pronounced in children from lower-income families than in children growing up in higher-income households.
These findings also highlight that We can help protect children’s mental health by ensuring they have plenty of opportunities for adventurous play.
This is positive because play is free, instinctive and rewarding for children, is open to everyone, and requires no special skills. We need to invest in and protect natural spaces, well-designed parks and adventurous playgrounds, to support the mental health of our children.
Every child needs and deserves a chance to play. This is even more important to help children thrive after all they have overlooked in the restrictions of Covid-19. More play means happier and less anxiety and depression.
Children and young people need freedom and opportunity to face challenges and risks in their playful everyday adventures.
It is clear from research findings that playing, taking risks, and experiencing excitement in the outdoors positively contribute to children’s mental health and emotional well-being. The rewards of allowing children to self-regulate and manage the challenge in their play are pervasive and far-reaching.