SUN ONLINE, MAY 26, 2019
COVERAGE FOR LITTLE TIKES
GAME THEORY: Modern parents risk damaging their children’s development by not playing with them enough, study finds
Most Brit mums and dads worry that they do not engage enough with their children
MODERN parents could be damaging their children’s development, by not playing with them enough, according to new research.
A nationwide study of British parents has found as many as 87 per cent of mums and dads worry that they do not play or engage enough with their children.
Asked why they struggle to have one-on-one time with their kids, a third said they are too tired after a long day at work, while 31 per cent admitted they simply don’t have the energy to play.
Nearly two in five parents agree that the stress of modern living means there is very little time for downtime as a family.
Yet a clinical report published in 2018 called The Power of Play: A Paediatric Role in Enhancing Development in Young Children, explains how and why playing with both parents and peers is key to building thriving brains, bodies, and social bonds.
The 2018 US study by the AAP shows how play, especially with parents, improves children’s abilities to plan, organize, get along with others, and regulate emotions. In addition, play helps with language, maths and social skills, and even helps children cope with stress, according to the findings.
However new research of 2,000 parents released today by Little Tikes, found as many as seven in ten parents across the UK believe their kids don’t have enough playtime due to modern day pressures.
A quarter (26 percent) say their children are loaded down with homework, and two in ten think their kids are on an intense treadmill.
Although nearly all parents surveyed agreed that playing with their kids is good for the whole family, it can be difficult to commit to this. Nearly half confessed to checking their phone during playtime, and 43 per cent have chosen to put the kids in front of the TV instead to give themselves time to get on with other things.
However, when asked about the benefits of playing with their children, 61 per cent of parents say they love interacting with them, with over half reporting they find it fun.
And the benefits of play for the relationship between parent and child are even greater, as 67 per cent of parents say it strengthens the bond between them.
There are also important health benefits of play-time too, according to the nation’s parents. More than half (53 per cent) believe it helps with brain development, 47 per cent say it makes kids creative and four in ten (41 per cent) think it keeps them healthy.
The research from Little Tikes also found that despite modern parents wanting to spend more time playing with their kids – nearly half of respondents (48 per cent) said their own parents played with them less when they were children than they do with their own offspring.
It seems too much technology is a big concern for parents today, with 75 per cent confessing that they feel guilty about the amount of screen-time their kids have.
In fact almost four in ten parents admit they allow their children to have too much screen-time.
Michelle Lilley, Head of Marketing for Little Tikes said: “Families are busier than they’ve probably ever been, meaning it’s harder to get that quality play time together. The pace of modern life is causing play to take a back seat, but as our research shows, parents are big believers in play and the benefits it provides to the whole family, which is great to hear.
“Little Tikes has always championed play, whether it’s inside or outdoors, from birth to when toddlers start to take their first step. We’re passionate about creating toys that help children grow, develop and have fun. With the summer months upon us, we’re encouraging families to get out and about, play big together and make new memories”.
The study found that children and parents enjoy playing a range of games together, with board games being the most popular, as chosen by 42 per cent of parents.
Building things together and enjoying outdoor games also ranked highly for 39 per cent of parents, followed by playing ball games (37 per cent) and dancing to music together (36 per cent).
Imaginative games are also popular at play-time, including telling stories (34 per cent), role play (29 per cent) and dressing up (19 per cent).