March 25, 2017 Carol Miller

The State of Play in the USA

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Children are not playing at home

The State of Play in the USA: A study comparing mothers to their children found that 70% of mothers said they played outside every day when they were girls, while only 31% said their children did the same. And 56% stated that they played outside for three or more hours, while only 22% said this about their kids. Moreover, 85% said children today play outside less often than children of a few years ago. 85 % said the top reason for this decline was time spent watching TV and playing computer/video games.

70% of mothers stated that they played outside every day when they were girls, while only 31% said their children did the same. And 56% said they played outside for three or more hours, while only 22% said this about their children

mobile 842814 19201 300x173 - The State of Play in the USAKids spend a lot of time in front of entertainment screens—televisions, computers, and smaller electronic devices. Even the most conservative estimates put screen time for children ages 0 to 8 at two hours per day, and a recent University of Michigan Health System study found that 26% of parents report that their children 2–5 years old have three or more hours of daily entertainment screen time 12. Other studies show that usage increases dramatically as children get older, as 8 to 10-year-olds are on screens for five and a half hours per day. The most recent study done by Kaiser Family Foundation demonstrated that kids 8-18 spent 8 ½ hours per day on ‘screen time.’

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A 2009 study published in the journal Pediatrics found that 30 % of children surveyed had little to no recess in their school day. That’s nearly one in three kids. This is in spite of research, such as a Gallup poll revealing that elementary school principals overwhelmingly believe recess has a positive impact not only on the development of students’ social skills but also on achievement and learning in the classroom.
The updated journal of Pediatrics study completed in 2015, showed:
• 20% of 1-year-olds own a tablet.
• 28% of 2-year-olds could navigate a mobile device without assistance.
• 28% of parents said they use a mobile device to put their kids to sleep. The use of tablets and smartphones among young children has simply become child’s play, with children able to skillfully tap and swipe before they can walk or talk.
1. Prior research found that compared to 1981, children in 1997 spent less time in play and had less free time. They spent 18 percent more time at school, 145 percent more time doing schoolwork, and 168 percent more time shopping with parents. The researchers found that, including computer play, children in 1997 spent only about eleven hours per week at play.
2. As children’s play time declined, this lack of play affects emotional development, leading to the rise of anxiety, depression, and problems of attention and self-control.
3. 5-year-olds today have the emotional development of 3-year-olds of the past.
4. Parents must make the time to allow their kids to play, play brings many benefits to your child and you.
Active play helps children adjust to the school setting, and enhances their learning readiness, behavior, and problem-solving skills. Schools without recess face increased incidents of classroom behavioral problems, which detract from learning time.
Play also may increase children’s capacity to store new information, as their cognitive ability is enhanced when they are offered drastic changes in activity—switching from English to math is not enough.
education 908512 19202 300x169 - The State of Play in the USAThe decline of time for recess and other opportunities for active play in school is happening across the board.
A 2008 report from the Center on Education Policy found that between 2001–2002 and 2006–07, 16% of schools cut art and music and 20 % cut recess. But it disproportionately affects the 16 million American children living in poverty.
In the same report, high-poverty elementary schools were four to five times more likely to go without recess (18–28%) than schools with the lowest age of children in poverty (4–5%).
Only 9% of elementary schools, 8% of middle schools and 2% of high schools provide daily physical education for all students.
According to the Institute of Medicine, 44% of schools across the United States have no Physical Education Classes since The No Child Left Behind Act was passed in 2001.

Children are not playing in their communities

Play is critical to knitting our communities together and helping children learn to work with others. As our world becomes ever more connected digitally, it is essential that we don’t lose the unique community building that comes from interacting face-to-face. Play builds communities and teaches children how to interact with peers and adults, relieve stress, and cope with their surroundings.
To encourage play, it is critical that children have safe places to play within walking distance of where they live. Without it, the strength and resilience of the community are compromised.
Not all children have access to play, and the availability of playspaces is far more restricted in low-income neighborhoods.
Between 1981 and 1997, time spent playing by children age six to eight declined by 25%. Peter Gray, Ph.D., and Professor of Psychology at Boston College observed that the loss of play for play’s sake coincided with a dramatic increase in anxiety, depression, and suicide rates among teens and young adults.

6 1 229x300 - The State of Play in the USAAll children need balanced and active play every day to thrive

Active Minds

Play activities help children create, explore, solve, and imagine—which helps their brain develop, builds critical creative thinking and problem-solving skills, and contributes to emotional well-being. For example:
• Play encourages recombining ideas, making associations, and transforming objects, helping children become more creative.
• Play also may increase children’s capacity to store new information, as their cognitive ability is enhanced when they are offered drastic changes in activity—switching from English to math is not enough.
• Play is associated with children developing the appreciation that problems may have numerous approaches and multiple solutions.
• Small children use imaginative play and fantasy to take on their fears and create or explore the world where they can have the control they may lack in their lives. It also allows them to practice adult roles. Through this imaginative play, children develop new competencies that lead to enhanced confidence and the resiliency they need to address future challenges.

Active Bodies

Play activities get children up and running around, developing motor skills and coordination, and building healthy bodies, and habits, for life.
• Physical play contributes to the development of gross motor skills, control, coordination, and strength.
• Healthy lifestyle habits formed through play, including physical activity, can lower the risk of becoming obese and the related risks of high blood pressure and high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes, breathing problems, joint problems, and social and psychological problems.
• Analysis based on data from the National Survey of Children’s Health (2007)indicate that children without neighborhood access to parks or playgrounds are 26 % more likely to be obese and 23 % more likely to be overweight than children with community access to parks or playgrounds.

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Play brings friends together and families together, teaching kids how to interact as part of a group, resolving conflicts, and strengthening bonds.
• Play helps children forge strong connections with one another, through learning how to share, negotiate, resolve conflicts, and develop self-advocacy skills.
• Recent research with Foresters™, conducted by Harris Interactive, found that the more time a family spends together at a community playground, the greater its sense of household well-being regarding strong relationships, quality health, and time spent together.

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