New Survey Reveals Attitudes on Play Behavior, Frequency
Harrisburg, Pa., – Research from the inaugural Voice of Play Parent Survey finds that kids, on average, are playing four days per week. This is good news for parents and kids alike, as research confirms the multiple benefits of play, including children’s physical, social, emotional and cognitive well being. The survey also uncovered generational differences among parents in play attitudes and behaviors, highlighting an opportunity for increased education on why play is critically important. The survey of 1,000 U.S. parents was conducted by Wakefield Research on behalf of the International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association (IPEMA), the playground industry’s leading playground safety certification organization, and the Voice of Play initiative, and was released at US Play Coalition’s Play Conference, held April 2-5 at Clemson University.
“When parents think of playgrounds, they often think about kids running, jumping, climbing, sliding, swinging and having fun,” said Tom Norquist, president, IPEMA. “IPEMA’s members strive to provide equipment and surfacing that engages children in social, imaginative and physically rewarding fun play experiences. With this research, we hope to shed light on current parental attitudes and habits toward play, and use this as an opportunity for further education on why play is an essential tool in every child’s development.”
Regular Play is the Way
Four in ten respondents (42 percent) say that their kids play four to six days per week, 30 percent play one to three days per week, 24 percent play every day and four percent claim their children do not play at all. In addition, parents who had four or more children were more likely to have kids that play outside seven days per week (31 percent). The percentage of younger children who spend time playing seven days per week is significantly higher, with 26 percent of children being less than five years old, 29 percent being five to nine years old and 18 percent being 10 and above, stressing the importance for children of all ages to play no matter their age.
Outdoor Play is Preferred
Eighty percent of parents said their kids enjoy playing outdoors significantly more than playing indoors, with 41 percent agreeing strongly with this statement. More than four in 10 parents (44 percent) said their children play outside for 2-3 hours, while 24 percent play less than one hour, 21 percent play one hour and 12 percent play more than three hours. Children with Millennial parents play outdoors the most, on average 2.23 hours, while Generation X (1.85 hours) and Baby Boomer parents (1.94 hours) said their kids log less time outside playing.
However, while respondents expressed that their kids enjoyed outdoor play more, the survey revealed that a more significant amount of time is spent playing indoors: Millennial parents say their children play 4.11 hours, Generation X says 2.66 hours and Baby Boomer parents say 2.47 hours. Forty percent of respondents say their kids play for 2-3 hours indoors, 35 percent say more than three hours, 14 percent say one hour and 11 percent say less than one hour.
Recognizing the Benefits
Play has a long list of benefits that are integral to a child’s future development. Yet many parents recognize select benefits more than others. Baby Boomer parents were confident to respond that children who play benefit physically (93 percent), socially (87 percent), emotionally (85 percent) and cognitively (80 percent). This compares to Millennials, who ranked each attribute the lowest of all generations: socially (75 percent), physically (74 percent), cognitively (68 percent) and emotionally (65 percent).
Year-Round Play is Important!
When the temperatures dip, kids still need time outside. However, parents of all generations prioritize outdoor play in the summer months: 89 percent agree that outdoor play is important in the summer, while 84 percent say the same of spring, 76 percent of fall and only 45 percent of winter. Additionally, Millennial parents don’t see year-round play as important as their Boomer counterparts. While both Millennial and Boomer parents find playtime in the summer months most important, Millennial parents agree at only 74 percent, while Boomers come in at 93.5 percent. Similarly, 57 percent of Boomer parents think play is important in winter, as compared to 39 percent of Millennial parents.
To learn more about the benefits of play, visit VoiceofPlay.org.