Children Who Play Adventurously Have Better Mental Health

From Neuroscience News:

“A study led by the University of Exeter asked parents how often their children engaged in play that was ‘thrilling and exciting,’ where they might experience some fear and uncertainty.

The study, published in Child Psychiatry & Human Development, comes at a time when today’s children have fewer opportunities for adventurous play out of sight of adults, such as climbing trees, riding bikes, jumping from high surfaces or playing somewhere where they are out of adult sight.

The study sought to test theories that adventurous play offers learning opportunities that help build resilience in children, thereby helping to prevent mental health problems.

The research team surveyed nearly 2,500 parents of children aged 5-11 years. Parents completed questions about their child’s play, their general mental health (pre-COVID) and their mood during the first COVID-19 lockdown….

Researchers found that children who spend more time playing outside had fewer “internalizing problems”—characterized as anxiety and depression. Those children were also more positive during the first lockdown.

The effects were relatively small, as would be expected given the range of factors that affect children’s mental health. However, results were consistent even after researchers factored in a wide range of demographic variables including child sex, age, parent employment status etc. and parent mental health…”

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