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Research About Play

All of our tips and information about play are based on scientific research. Play can improve the lives of children in many different areas. These areas can include their social development (how they interact with others), physical development (how their bodies grow), emotional development (how they manage their feelings) and cognitive development (how their brains work). Check out the research studies below for more information. If you have additional questions, ask the Mediatrician or email us at cmch@childrens.harvard.edu.

 

  • Ginsburg, K. R. (2007). The importance of play in promoting healthy child development and maintaining strong parent-child bonds. Pediatrics, 119(1), 182-191.
  • Hoffmann, J., & Russ, S. (2012). Pretend play, creativity, and emotion regulation in children. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 6(2), 175.
  • Hoffmann, J. D., & Russ, S. W. (2016). Fostering pretend play skills and creativity in elementary school girls: A group play intervention. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 10(1), 114.
  • Holmes, R. M., Romeo, L., Ciraola, S., & Grushko, M. (2015). The relationship between creativity, social play, and children’s language abilities. Early Child Development and Care, 185(7), 1180-1197.
  • Honeyford, M. A., & Boyd, K. (2015). Learning through play. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 59(1), 63-73.
  • Jirout, J. J., & Newcombe, N. S. (2015). Building blocks for developing spatial skills: Evidence from a large, representative US sample. Psychological Science, 26(3), 302-310.
  • Johnson, J. E., Ershler, J., & Lawton, J. T. (1982). Intellective correlates of preschoolers’ spontaneous play. The Journal of General Psychology, 106(1), 115-122.
  • Neuman, S. B., & Roskos, K. (1992). Literacy objects as cultural tools: Effects on children’s literacy behaviors in play. Reading Research Quarterly, 27(3), 203-225.
  • Ostroff, W. L. (2014). “Don’t just sit there … pay attention!” (active learning in kindergarten). Educational Leadership, 72(2), 70-75.
  • Ramani, G. B., & Siegler, R. S. (2008). Promoting broad and stable improvements in low‐income children’s numerical knowledge through playing number board games. Child Development, 79(2), 375-394.

  • Holmes, R. M., Romeo, L., Ciraola, S., & Grushko, M. (2015). The relationship between creativity, social play, and children’s language abilities. Early Child Development and Care, 185(7), 1180-1197.
  • Honeyford, M. A., & Boyd, K. (2015). Learning through play. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 59(1), 63-73.
  • Kochanska, G., Kim, S., Boldt, L. J., & Nordling, J. K. (2013). Promoting toddlers’ positive social-emotional outcomes in low-income families: A play-based experimental study. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 42(5), 700-712.
  • Lenhart, A., Smith, A., Anderson, M., Duggan, M., & Perrin, A. (2015). Teens, technology and friendships: Videogames, social media and mobile phones play an integral role in how teens meet and interact with friends. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/files/2015/08/Teens-and-Friendships-FINAL2.pdf
  • Loyd, S. Why Kids Need Their Dads. Retrieved from http://www.parenting.com/article/why-kids-need-their-dad
  • Parsons, A., & Howe, N. (2013). “This Is Spiderman’s Mask.”“No, It’s Green Goblin’s”: Shared meanings during boys’ pretend play with superhero and generic toys. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 27(2), 190-207.
  • Parkes, A., Sweeting, H., Wight, D., & Henderson, M. (2013). Do television and electronic games predict children’s psychosocial adjustment? Longitudinal research using the UK Millennium Cohort Study. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 1-8.
  • Taylor, M., Sachet, A. B., Maring, B. L., & Mannering, A. M. (2013). The assessment of elaborated role‐play in young children: Invisible friends, personified objects, and pretend identities. Social Development, 22(1), 75-93.
  • Vidoni, C., & Ward, P. (2009). Effects of fair play instruction on student social skills during a middle school sport education unit. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 14(3), 285-310.
  • Wohlwend, K. E. (2015). One screen, many fingers: Young children’s collaborative literacy play with digital puppetry apps and touchscreen technologies. Theory Into Practice, 54(2), 154-162.
  • Woolf, A. M. (2013). Social and emotional aspects of learning: teaching and learning or playing and becoming? Pastoral Care in Education, 31(1), 28-42.

      • Hoffmann, J., & Russ, S. (2012). Pretend play, creativity, and emotion regulation in children. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 6(2), 175.
      • Howard, J., & McInnes, K. (2013). The impact of children’s perception of an activity as play rather than not play on emotional well‐being. Child: Care, Health and Development, 39(5), 737-742.
      • Kochanska, G., Kim, S., Boldt, L. J., & Nordling, J. K. (2013). Promoting toddlers’ positive social-emotional outcomes in low-income families: A play-based experimental study. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 42(5), 700-712.
      • Litt, C. J. (1986). Theories of transitional object attachment: An overview. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 9(3), 383-399.
      • Marcelo, A. K., & Yates, T. M. (2014). Prospective relations among preschoolers’ play, coping, and adjustment as moderated by stressful events. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 35(3), 223-233.
      • Rosenberg, R. S., Baughman, S. L., & Bailenson, J. N. (2013). Virtual superheroes: Using superpowers in virtual reality to encourage prosocial behavior. PLoS One, 8(1), e55003.
      • Tortolero, S. R., Peskin, M. F., Baumler, E. R., Cuccaro, P. M., Elliott, M. N., Davies, S. L., . . . Schuster, M. A. (2014). Daily violent video game playing and depression in preadolescent youth. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 17(9), 609-615.

    • Feda, D. M., Lambiase, M. J., McCarthy, T. F., Barkley, J. E., & Roemmich, J. N. (2012). Effect of increasing the choice of active options on children’s physically active play. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 15(4), 334-340.
    • Lindsey, E. W. (2014). Physical activity play and preschool children’s peer acceptance: Distinctions between rough-and-tumble and exercise play. Early Education and Development, 25(3), 277-294.
    • Lindsey, E. W., & Colwell, M. J. (2013). Pretend and physical play: Links to preschoolers’ affective social competence. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 59(3), 330-360.
    • Loprinzi, P. D., Schary, D. P., & Cardinal, B. J. (2013). Adherence to active play and electronic media guidelines in preschool children: gender and parental education considerations. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 17(1), 56-61.
  • O’Dwyer, M. V., Fairclough, S. J., Knowles, Z., & Stratton, G. (2012). Effect of a family focused active play intervention on sedentary time and physical activity in preschool children. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 9(1).
  • Ostroff, W. L. (2014). “Don’t just sit there … pay attention!”(active learning in kindergarten). Educational Leadership, 72(2), 70-75.
  • Staiano, A. E., & Calvert, S. L. (2011). Exergames for physical education courses: Physical, social, and cognitive benefits. Child Development Perspectives, 5(2), 93-98.
  • Staiano, A. E., Abraham, A. A., & Calvert, S. L. (2013). Adolescent exergame play for weight loss and psychosocial improvement: a controlled physical activity intervention. Obesity, 21(3), 598-601.

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