Children at risk of losing creative streaks without free play, expert claims

Eight in 10 parents interviewed for study say they recognise developmental benefits of unhindered playtime

Astrid Hall
Wednesday 18 July 2018 12:03 BST
Stock image of children playing on the swings
Stock image of children playing on the swings (PA Images)

Opportunities for children to indulge their creativity are dwindling as a result of a lack of imaginative playtime, a leading social scientist has claimed.

Mark Stevenson predicted children might find themselves unable to develop certain aspects of innovative thinking and creativity because of an absence of unscheduled playtime – otherwise known as "free play".

Mr Stevenson was reacting to a study of 2,000 UK parents that found one in five children follow structured extra-curricular routines, leaving little time for imaginative play.

The research, commissioned by Petits Filous, also revealed eight in 10 parents recognise the benefits of imaginative play, with nearly half of children earmarking a simple cardboard box as their favourite playtime object.

Millions more still find pleasure in playing with other common household items such as packaging and pipe cleaners, the survey suggested.

Schools fuel mental health crisis by isolating children in harsh 'consequences booths', ministers warned

Mr Stevenson added: “This is about reclaiming one of the bedrocks of creativity and innovation – free play.

“From our neurological development through to our ability to handle complexity and change, play is a foundation that, if taken away, severely limits our abilities and potential.

“We need a generation of radical innovators and we won’t get them if we curtail their creativity from childhood.

"Reclaiming play, therefore, is one of the most crucial steps we can take in re-imagining ourselves for the future.”

South West News Service

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in