Risky childhood play protects against anxiety and depression: study

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Anxiety and depression in children who participated in more adventurous games that elicited feelings of excitement or fear compared to those who participated in less intense activities, according to a recent article published in the journal Child Psychiatry and Human Development Symptoms have eased.

“We are more concerned than ever with children’s mental health, and our findings underscore how we can help protect children’s mental health by ensuring they have adequate opportunities for risky play,” said lead author Helen Doe, professor of child psychology. said Helen Dodd. University of Exeter, UK.

“It’s really positive because the game is free, instinctive, and good for kids, accessible to everyone, and doesn’t require any special skills. There is an urgent need to invest in and protect well-designed Natural spaces, parks and adventure playgrounds to support the mental health of our children. »

Children who spent more time playing outdoors had fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression.
(in stock)

The researchers conducted two studies. A study of a sample of 427 parents from Northern Ireland, which they extended to a second, larger “nationally representative” sample of 1,919 people living in the United Kingdom (England, Wales and Scotland) Parents were formed to determine whether a larger study would confirm first learning.

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They define adventure play as “child-oriented play in which children experience subjective feelings of excitement, thrill, and fear; usually in the context of age-appropriate adventures”.

The study interviewed parents of children aged 5 to 11 in the first weeks of the COVID-19 lockdown.

Parents completed three different surveys: one about their child’s play, one about their child’s general mental health in the weeks leading up to the pandemic, and a third to assess whether their child was showing signs of anxiety or anxiety. Symptoms of depression. -19. .

Participating in adventure activities can improve children's mental health.

Participating in adventure activities can improve children’s mental health.
(in stock)

After controlling for age, gender, parental employment status, and parental mental health, both the smaller and larger studies found that children who spent more time playing outdoors had fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression , but larger studies show a stronger correlation in children. grew up in a low-income family.

The researchers speculate that the stronger correlation among low-income households may be due to fewer opportunities for structured activities such as boy scouts, martial arts, or adventure camps, which often bring uncertainty and adjustment. Feel.

They argue that risk-taking in low-income households has become more important because these structured opportunities are less available.

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The researchers also found that non-adventure gaming was not associated with symptoms of anxiety or depression, noting that the study was limited because it relied on parental reports of gaming and health.

“More play means more happiness and less anxiety and depression,” said Dan Perskins, Save the Children’s UK impact director.

“Every child needs and deserves the opportunity to play. This important study shows that helping children thrive is even more important after they have missed everything during COVID-19 restrictions. »

The City Parks Foundation tries to keep New York City kids active despite the limited number of places children can safely play outdoors.

The City Parks Foundation tries to keep New York City kids active despite the limited number of places children can safely play outdoors.
(Eileen Lefevre/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

However, in some parts of the US, like New York, it’s not always easy to find safe places for kids to play outdoors, but one athletic director is trying to change that.

“At City Parks Foundation, one of New York City’s leading nonprofits for keeping young people active, we’ve seen firsthand how kids have had a tough year. We also know that creating fun outdoor environments for young people to be adventurous Ways to play helps them build positive connections, build confidence and stay active,” said Mike Silverman, athletic director for the City Park Foundation.

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On July 9, he told Fox News that his foundation is working with the Life Time Foundation to organize a family adventure run in Queens that will allow hundreds of parents and children to ease through a series of exciting obstacles and activities. pressure.

“This is also our first family adventure race since the start of the pandemic, which is especially exciting, and I’m happy to tell you that we still have venues open for families who want to spend some fun time with their kids at Adventure, ‘ Silverman added.



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