According to a study of about 2,700 children, the more parents hover while their child plays, the more sedentary that child becomes. The study by the North Carolina State University Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism observed children playing in 20 different parks in Durham, NC.
The researchers found that when a supervising adult was present, a child was less likely to take risks and play more vigorously, and that parents reigned in children’s play and prevented them from wandering and exploring. The researchers expressed that by hovering, children don’t enjoy the full benefits of free play which is so important to the development of young children on a cognitive, social and physical level. The study also found that children were influenced by the activity level of their peers; the more active their playmates were, the more active they would be.
The researchers admit it is a bit of a Catch 22 in that parents take their children to parks in order to encourage play, but their worry and concern of children’s safety can lead to being overly cautious. The researchers hope that the study will lead to improvements in the design of public parks to include seating for parents so that they can keep an eye on their children, without interfering with their play.
Source: American Journal of Preventative Medicine