Child’s Play: Examining the Association Between Time Spent Playing and Child Mental Health



Dodd HF, Nesbit RJ & FitzGibbon L (2022) Child’s Play: Examining the Association Between Time Spent Playing and Child Mental Health. Child Psychiatry & Human Development.

It is theorised that adventurous play offers learning opportunities that help to prevent mental health problems in children. In this study, data from two samples is used to examine associations between the time that children aged 5–11 years spent playing adventurously and their mental health. For comparison, time spent playing unadventurously and time spent playing outdoors are also examined. Study 1 includes a sample of 417 parents, Study 2 includes data from a nationally representative sample of 1919 parents. Small, significant associations between adventurous play and internalising problems, as well as positive affect during the first UK-wide Covid-19 lockdown, were found; children who spend more time playing adventurously had fewer internalising problems and more positive affect during the Covid-19 lockdown. Study 2 showed that these associations were stronger for children from lower income families than for children from higher income families. The results align with theoretical hypotheses about adventurous play.

Psychiatry and Mental health; Developmental and Educational Psychology; Pediatrics, Perinatology and Child Health

Child Psychiatry & Human Development

FundersUK Research and Innovation
Publication date online14/05/2022
Date accepted by journal11/04/2022
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media LLC

People (1)


Dr Lily FitzGibbon

Dr Lily FitzGibbon

Lecturer in Psychology, Psychology