A survey carried out by Playful Childhoods has revealed 63% of adults in south Wales believe children today have fewer of the same play experiences as when they were young.
The most common reason is due to concerns that technology is impacting childhood, with 59% of adults saying that “technology gets in the way” of play. The most missed games from the past are hide and seek, double dutch (skipping rope) and hopscotch.
To launch its summer Project Play campaign, Playful Childhoods took to the streets of Wrexham for a game of Double Dutch and Barry Island revellers reminisced by hopscotching their way to the beach.
Project Play aims to get families across Wales away from screens and revisiting the simplicity and enjoyment of games of the past and playing outdoors. Whether it be on a beach in Barry, or on a safe street outside the house.
The survey also explored the benefits of having more free and spontaneous play. Most respondents reported how playing as a child kept them active and healthy which has resulted in them staying more active as an adult. Others said it helped them develop a good imagination.
Project Play wants to inject the fun and spirit back into simple, imaginative, active play – just like adults of today remember fondly from their youth.
Amy Podmore, a parent of two from Ystrad Rhondda in Rhondda Cynon Taff said: “Children spend way too much time these days sitting in front of a TV screen or looking at a screen on a handheld device. I often say they are turning into computer zombies.”
“Playing outside is really important and it can promote good health, for example fresh air and exercise. Outdoor play can also encourage children to explore and learn about the environment. It can be as simple as going for a walk and looking at wildlife or insects or going to a local park to play with other children and play games.”
Mike Greenaway, Director of Play Wales, which runs Playful Childhoods and Project Play said: “We wanted to hear from adults and parents about their childhood experiences of play and how they helped to form the adults they have become. Our research confirmed that the rise in the use of technology – amongst other things – has had a negative impact on outdoor play opportunities for children today. Parents are concerned about this.
“To launch the project, we wanted to bring back the games that are most missed. It’s brilliant how playing these games brings feelings of nostalgia and reminds us of the pure joy of being a child. Playing is hugely important to children’s health and happiness.
“Through Project Play, we want to remind parents how easy it is to play outdoors with friends and family, with no cost. We’d love to see everyone coming together to make their communities more playful – not just the children, but the adults too!”
Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services, Julie Morgan, said: “Play is essential to children’s enjoyment and contributes so much to their overall well-being. I’m pleased that the Welsh Government have been able to provide funding to Play Wales to support the Playful Childhoods campaign.
The initiative will help highlight the importance of play and the role families and communities have in creating opportunities for children to play.”
Sally Holland, Children’s Commissioner of Wales, said: “Playing is so important to children’s development that they actually have a human right to play, and this has been enshrined in the law here in Wales. It’s vital that we, the adults around them, do all that we can to give children every opportunity to enjoy this right.
“It can be easy to forget how beneficial playing simple games can be: it’s a fantastic way of letting off steam, boosting mood, getting exercise, and bonding with others.
“Reminding families of the value of enjoying these games together is really important. Like many adults, some of my happiest memories of childhood are from playing outdoors with friends and family. I’m delighted that Play Wales is encouraging everyone to get involved in #projectplay this summer.”
For more information on how you can encourage children to get outside, play and explore visit www.playfulchildhoods.wales.