Monthly Archives: April 2010

Creative and Active Play In Childhood Is Linked To Good Adult Health

Play patterns established in childhood are linked to adult health and health behaviour. In particular playing creatively as a child predicts a healthier diet, and more active play is associated with generally better health. These findings are presented at the British Psychological Society’s Annual Conference.

505 young adults were surveyed about their experiences and opportunities for play during childhood. A range of information about weight, health and health behaviours was also collected. Four types of play were identified; active play, play involving technology, playing alone, and creative play. Four types of play were found to be linked in different ways to adult health.

Adults who had engaged in more creative play as children were more likely to have a healthy diet and have more health protective behaviours, such as eating a healthy diet and taking regular exercise. Those who reported more active play had better health status and engaged in more exercise as adults, while those reporting environmental restrictions on play (e.g having less time to play) were more likely to be overweight and have less healthy lifestyles.

This study indicates that children’s play patterns may have far reaching implications for establishing healthy habits in adulthood. Tony Cassidy commented: “Having the freedom and opportunity to play is important for all aspects of child development and is a right that is often overlooked. It is something that most children want to do, and do naturally, but its importance is not always recognised by adults, particularly policy makers.

“For all sorts of reasons our society has restricted child play. To remove restrictions and reverse a potentially damaging trend requires a change in attitudes across adult society”.

Study shows why talking to babies helps

Babies learn more from hearing words than they do from listening to tones, according to new research. A study at Northwestern University in Illinois in the United States found that at three months old, babies could already use language to help them understand the world around them.Lead author Alissa Ferry said, ‘This is the youngest we have found an impact of language on how infants group objects in their environment. In some ways it is unexpected, but recent research with infants keeps showing us they know far more than people expect.’ She added, ‘Parents and carers should be talking to their babies well before they say their first words. Children are learning about their language and using it to help them figure out the world.’

Researchers showed three and four-month-old babies a series of pictures of different fish. Half heard the words for the picture, while the other half heard a beeping noise. The children were then shown pictures of dinosaurs. The babies who heard words got bored quickly with the fish pictures as they had formed the category, but those who heard the beeping sound looked equally as long at the dinosaur and the fish pictures.

Speaking on behalf of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, Sue Roulstone, Professor of Speech and Language Therapy at the University of the West of England in Bristol, said, ‘This research shows that words are an important mechanism for helping babies make sense of the world, to organise what they see and to focus on the similarities and differences between objects. The research confirms the importance of talking to your baby right from the start.’