Research covered the impact of playful interactions between parents/carers and children while engaged in object play.
Fisher-Price has published the new report, which it has conducted in conjunction with Dr Jacqueline Harding (MA Cert Ed SFHEA), a senior lecturer at Middlesex University and an international expert in child development and neurophysiology.
For the report, titled “Playtime for Everyone,” Dr Harding conducted the first ever review of academic evidence on the possible impact of playful interactions between parents/carers and young children while engaged in object play, analysing over 100 different studies.
Originally set for release later this year as part of the Fisher-Price global campaign “Let’s Be Kids,” which invites grown-ups to rediscover the joy of playtime, the decision was made to release the findings early to offer parents affected by the current COVID-19 situation some comfort and scientific insights on the social, psychological and physical benefits they can gain through playing with their children.
The evidence suggests playtime can help reduce stress levels, increase well-being, boost mental stamina and even strengthen the immune system. In one study referenced by Dr Harding in her report, doctors describe “mirthful laughter” as the equivalent of “internal jogging” because it can lower blood pressure, stress and boost the immune system much like moderate exercise.
One area Dr Harding focuses on in her report looks at how constant stress releases the hormone cortisol in the brain, and how playing with children helps to counteract this. Parents and carers who are being subjected to increased levels of stress during the Coronavirus crisis can help prevent the erosion of positive relationships with children through bursts of harmonious play-driven interaction. This is particularly important now that kids are unable to interact or play with other children.
Dr Harding says: “We know this is an incredibly stressful time for parents who are trying to juggle so much in an unprecedented situation. This report reveals that playtime can be an antidote to stress and have many positive benefits for adults as well as kids.”
Pauline de la Riviere, UK marketing director for Fisher Price, says: “This new research brings together all the positives that can be gained through play for all the family which is particularly relevant for the times we are living. Whatever time you can spare to play, in whichever way you choose to play, there are no rights or wrongs, we hope to support parents and inspire them to keep on playing knowing there are benefits for them and their children which will help during this difficult time.”