Culture Post: Are Jittery Parents Today Taking All the Fun Out of Their Children’s Play?

The following is excerpted from an online article posted by StudyFinds.

Are modern parents stifling their kids’ playtime? Moms and dads may mean well, but researchers from the University of Essex suggest today’s parents are monitoring their children a whole lot more than previous generations, potentially hindering both spontaneous play and development.

Researchers explain that while parents have always shouldered the responsibility of looking after and raising their kids, the so-called “heightened intensity” of parenting in recent years and decades has produced modern parents who believe they should spend close to all of their time exhaustively watching, noticing, and responding to their children’s desires and behaviors.

This latest study indicates that this approach to parenting is leaving less time for kids to play independently — a key time in childhood in which they learn the risks and dangers of outdoor play. The research also found, somewhat ironically, that many parents nowadays find themselves worried over this lack of spontaneous play and the possibility it could hinder their kids’ development. Meanwhile, there’s also the undeniable development that children’s play has become increasingly more sedentary in recent years due to technology.

“Until around the 1990s, parents were not expected to endlessly entertain and monitor their children in the same way they are today, so children had greater freedom to play independently,” says study author Dr. John Day in a media release. “But since those children have become parents themselves, society has changed so there is a heightened feeling of responsibility for their children’s development.”

To address this trend, Dr. Day recommends a culture shift in which health policymakers work toward ensuring children are encouraged to learn about the risks of physically active play, yet still engage in play independent of adult supervision.

The study was published in the journal Sociology of Health & Illness.

Source: StudyFinds

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[reposted by] Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has 40 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord culture blog also appears on and Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

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