This week our Beano Brain Director of Insight Helenor Gilmour was invited by Save the Children to discuss the importance of play and how it has manifested itself in lockdown.
Play is a fundamental part of children’s social and mental wellbeing. But without school and its dedicated play times and subsequent play dates and social events - how has play been affected by lockdown?
Parents have taken a more relaxed attitude towards technology, to help facilitate their working remotely or provide boredom busting solutions, and this has enabled lots of conditional (creative) play.
1 in 5 kids (215) has played with Lego with friends whilst on video a call and just over a quarter (25%) have done arts and crafts through online videos whilst staying at home. And they’re not just watching – nearly a third (28%) of UK kids aged 7-14 have created and posted their own videos.
“I’ve been keeping busy with art stuff and I’ve made unicorn and a rainbow pictures. My whole family has been getting involved.” – Amaya, (9) Beano Trendspotter
“I’ve been keeping busy with crafts and drawing” – Lily (10) Beano Trendspotter
And the sunny lockdown weather has helped functional (physical) play. Over half of UK kids 7-14 have gone on a bike or scooter ride (51%) and garden trampolines have had a resurgence with 38% of kids playing on one since May.
“I’ve been outside loads this week playing on the trampoline, football and bike rides. We got the Wii Sports out again and have been playing boxing and tennis.” – Issac (10) Beano Trendspotter
“I’ve been making dens with my sister and I’ve been practicing new tricks on my trampoline.” – Daisy (11) Beano Trendspotter
So, although kids are utilising new ways to play, during lockdown children cannot enjoy the same levels of social interactive play as before. Isolation is high, access to outdoor space and technology isn’t the same for all children and the effect this will have on their mental health and well-being is a growing concern.
Social play and friendships are struggling the most in lockdown.
“When I’m speaking to my friends we are just talking about birthdays or singing happy birthday and asking; what are you up to, what can we do and saying I’m bored in the house!” - Amelia (9) Beano Trendspotter
"I've not spoken to any of my friends this week." - Jack (9) Beano Trendspotter
For children, playing with friends and classmates is a key component of their social development. It’s how children work through emotions and will be their main way of coping with the isolating effects of the lockdown.
How these friendships and opportunities for social interactive play will be impacted until September and beyond is cause for concern. Brands and organisations should be looking for ways to help children connect safely. And as the Government looks to take steps to ease social distancing, giving children time and space to play with friends is critical.
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