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How is the play deficit harming our children?

Photo by sargant (cc).

The lack of play is causing physical, intellectual, social, and emotional harm to our children.

Physical harm: 

In neighborhoods without a park or playground, the incidence of childhood obesity increases 29%.  In fact, children with a park or playground within half-a-mile are almost five times more likely to be a healthy weight than children without playgrounds or parks nearby.

Intellectual harm:

Without ample play, we will continue to see a decrease in creativity and imagination, as well as vital skills including curiosity, social skills, resiliency, and the ability to assess risk. Children in China, Korea, Finland, Singapore, and Japan are provided with playful schooling opportunities prior to second grade and have among the highest scores on international PISA exam for 15 year olds, ranked (1, 2, 3, 5, 8) respectively. The U.S. was ranked at #13.

Social harm:

Children who don’t play don’t learn how to work in groups, share, negotiate, resolve conflicts, and advocate for themselves. The lack of these skills has dramatic long-term effects. Children deprived of play show increased problems with social integration, including a greater likelihood of felony arrests by young adulthood.

Emotional harm:

Studies have shown that schools without recess face increased incidence in classroom behavioral problems, including violence and emotional outbursts. Their students show a lack of ability to interact with peers and authority figures. Outside the school, play deprivation can have serious long-term consequences. Physician, psychiatrist, and clinical researcher Stuart Brown, studied more than 6,000 felons and found that 90% of convicted murderers lacked “play features” in their childhoods.