Young children and toddlers are losing out as the average busy parent spends just 56 minutes a day playing one to one with their children – less than the time it takes to watch an episode of Britain’s Got Talent.
Even parents of children as young as 0 – 2 years of age play for an average of only 62 minutes.
Dr Miriam Stoppard, said: “These findings are incredibly sad. A parent is a child’s first teacher and playing with babies and toddlers is absolutely crucial to their early development. Every time a baby plays, it thinks. And every time it thinks it develops half a million brain connections.”
Time pressures and modern demands are taking their toll as parents feel self conscious and inadequate when it comes to playing.
76% of parents polled blame short playtimes on low confidence, feeling self-conscious, a lack of understanding about how important play is or even finding it boring.
Technology is impacting on play. 65% of mums and dads felt that demands from work, emails, social media and texts on a daily basis was resulting in less ‘child-time’
John McDonnell, Managing Director of Galt Toys, comments: “Despite being well aware of the time pressures on today’s parents it is still quite shocking to find out that so little time is spent playing one to one with children. It is a shame to hear children are watching TV or playing with gadgets instead of playing with their parents which is so much more beneficial.”
For most families, the traditional evening bedtime routines still exist – such as playing at bath time and bedtime stories – but even these have been drastically cut. We now spend an average of only 16 minutes on bedtime stories.
Dr Miriam Stoppard continues: “Our study found that many parents avoid or reduce bath and bedtime activity for fear of getting children too excited before they go to sleep. But this is the time of day when you’re back from work and there are the least demands on your time so is the perfect opportunity to spend some quality time with your little ones.”
Interaction is key for kids. Instead of playing alone, children are much better off playing with others, their favourite choice being their parents rather than other children or siblings.
Playing with your child should be fun, not a chore.