Sharp Decline in Children’s Unstructured Play Time Shown in New Study

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Waning could negatively impact growth and development

Over half of parents in a recent poll think that children today have fewer opportunities for play than children 20 years ago. Educators and child development experts agree that play is vital to children’s cognitive, social/emotional and physical development and growth. Yet, many parents polled reported their children get one hour or less of unstructured play time each day: 55 percent of parents with children ages 10 to 12; 42 percent of parents with children ages 3 to 9; and 34 percent of parents with children up to age 3. Almost two-thirds of those polled think the ideal amount of daily play time is between one and two hours.

Parents advocate for play time too, according to a new survey commissioned by Landscape Structures Inc., a Delano, Minn.-based commercial playground equipment manufacturer. Even in today’s 24/7 world, more than three-quarters of parents polled agreed that children with adequate free play time grow up to be better contributors to society.