Play and Health

Television, video games, and the internet are ubiquitous and compelling media that tempt children every waking minute. While fun, these largely passive activities reduce the amount of active and social play children engage in. Worryingly, research into childhood development suggests a direct link between an increase in these sedentary, socially-isolated activities and the growth in childhood stress, anxiety disorders, and obesity. It is particularly telling that both the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights and the American Academy of Pediatrics took an active decision to promote childhood play and limit screen time.

Increased rates of anxiety, obesity, emotional trauma, and violence have alarmed pediatricians and child psychologists. Many believe play can be the antidote to isolation, worry, loneliness, fear, and violence. Active play fosters sound emotional and mental health. Through play children strengthen their confidence, learn to trust others, create friendships, and feel safe. These benefits develop a sense of belonging, critical to the feeling of well-being. The Let’s Move! campaign recommends 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous active play every day. It may sound like a lot, but it doesn’t all need to happen at one time.

As Dr. Ken Ginsburg, pediatrician and child development researcher at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, stated in guidelines laid out in the American Academy of Pediatricians journal in 2011, “Play is essential to the social, emotional, cognitive, and physical wellbeing of children beginning in early childhood.”

Related Information

American Academy of Pediatrics 2011 updated guidelines


Let’s Move!


Steve Gross, Executive Director, Life is Good Kids Foundation.