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Play is a range of intrinsically motivated activities done for
recreational Recreation is an activity of leisure Leisure has often been defined as a quality of experience or as free time. Free time is time spent away from business, Employment, work, job hunting, Housekeeping, domestic chores, and education, as wel ...
pleasure and enjoyment. Play is commonly associated with children and juvenile-level activities, but play occurs at any life stage, and among other higher-functioning animals as well, most notably
mammals Mammals (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the R ...
and
birds Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrate Vertebrates () comprise all species of animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the Kingdom (biology), biological kingdom Animalia. With ...

birds
. Many prominent researchers in the field of psychology, including
Melanie Klein Melanie Klein (née Reizes; 30 March 1882 – 22 September 1960) was an Austrian-British author and psychoanalysis, psychoanalyst known for her work in child analysis. She was the primary figure in the development of object relations theory. Klei ...

Melanie Klein
,
Jean Piaget Jean Piaget (, , ; 9 August 1896 – 16 September 1980) was a Swiss Swiss may refer to: * the adjectival form of Switzerland *Swiss people Places *Swiss, Missouri *Swiss, North Carolina *Swiss, West Virginia *Swiss, Wisconsin Other uses *Swiss ...

Jean Piaget
,
William James William James (January 11, 1842 – August 26, 1910) was an American philosopher American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States ** Americans, citi ...
,
Sigmund Freud Sigmund Freud ( , ; born Sigismund Schlomo Freud; 6 May 1856 – 23 September 1939) was an Austrian neurologist Neurology (from el, νεῦρον (neûron), "string, nerve" and the suffix -logia, "study of") is a branch of medicine M ...

Sigmund Freud
,
Carl Jung Carl Gustav Jung ( ; born Karl Gustav Jung, ; 26 July 1875 – 6 June 1961), was a Swiss psychiatrist A psychiatrist is a physician A physician (American English), medical practitioner (English in the Commonwealth of Nations ...

Carl Jung
and
Lev Vygotsky Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky (russian: Лев Семёнович Выго́тский, p=vɨˈɡotskʲɪj; be, Леў Сямёнавіч Выго́цкі, p=vɨˈɡotskʲɪj; – June 11, 1934) was a Soviet psychologist A psychologist is a pers ...
have erroneously viewed play as confined to the human species, believing play was important for human development and using different research methods to prove their theories. Play is often interpreted as frivolous; yet the player can be intently focused on their objective, particularly when play is structured and goal-oriented, as in a
game A game is a structured form of play Play most commonly refers to: * Play (activity), an activity done for enjoyment * Play (theatre), a work of drama Play may refer also to: Computers and technology * Google Play, a digital content serv ...

game
. Accordingly, play can range from relaxed, free-spirited and spontaneous through frivolous to planned or even compulsive. Play is not just a pastime activity; it has the potential to serve as an important tool in numerous aspects of daily life for adolescents, adults, and cognitively advanced non-human species (such as primates). Not only does play promote and aid in physical development (such as hand-eye coordination), but it also aids in cognitive development and social skills, and can even act as a stepping stone into the world of integration, which can be a very stressful process. Play is something that most children partake in, but the way play is executed is different between cultures and the way that children engage with play varies universally.


Definitions

The seminal text in the field of play studies is the book ''
Homo Ludens ''Homo Ludens'' is a book originally published in Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') D ...
'' first published in 1944 with several subsequent editions, in which
Johan Huizinga Johan Huizinga (; 7 December 1872 – 1 February 1945) was a Dutch historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survives. A historian is a person who studies and w ...
defines play as follows: This definition of play as constituting a separate and independent sphere of human activity is sometimes referred to as the "magic circle" notion of play, a phrase also attributed to Huizinga. Many other definitions exist. Jean Piaget stated, "the many theories of play expounded in the past are clear proof that the phenomenon is difficult to understand." There are multiple aspects of play people home in on when defining it. One definition from Susanna Millar's ''The Psychology of Play'' defines play as: “any purposeful mental or physical activity performed either individually or group-wise in leisure time or at work for enjoyment, relaxation, and satisfaction of real-time or long term needs.” This definition particularly emphasizes the conditions and benefits to be gained under certain actions or activities related to play. Other definitions may focus on play as an activity that must follow certain characteristics including willingness to engage, uncertainty of the outcome, and productivity of the activity to society. Another definition of play from the twenty-first century comes from the National Playing Fields Association (NPFA). The definition reads as follows: “play is freely chosen, personally directed, intrinsically motivated behaviour that actively engages the child.” This definition focuses more on the child's freedom of choice and personal motivation related to an activity.


Forms

Play can take the form of improvisation or pretense, interactive, performance, mimicry, games, sports, and thrill-seeking, such as extreme or dangerous sports (sky-diving, high-speed racing, etc.). Philosopher
Roger Caillois Roger Caillois (; 3 March 1913 – 21 December 1978) was a French intellectual An intellectual is a person who engages in critical thinking, research Research is "creativity, creative and systematic work undertaken to increase the ...
wrote about play in his 1961 book ''
Man, Play and Games ''Man, Play and Games'' () is the influential 1961 book by the French sociologist Roger Caillois Roger Caillois (; 3 March 1913 – 21 December 1978) was a French intellectual An intellectual is a person who engages in critical thinking, ...
.'' Free play gives children the freedom to decide what they want to play and how it will be played. Both the activity and the rules are subject to change in this form, and children can make any changes to the rules or objectives of the play at any time. Some countries in the twenty-first century have added emphasis of free play into their values for children in early childhood such as Taiwan and Hungary. Structured play has clearly defined
goals A goal is an objective that a person or a system plans or intends to achieve. Goal may also refer to: Sport * Goal (sport), a method of scoring in many sports, or the physical structure or area where scoring occurs ** Goals, the Football_pitch#Go ...
and rules and such play is called a "
game A game is a structured form of play Play most commonly refers to: * Play (activity), an activity done for enjoyment * Play (theatre), a work of drama Play may refer also to: Computers and technology * Google Play, a digital content serv ...

game
". Other play is unstructured or open-ended. Both types of play promote adaptive behaviors and mental states of
happiness The term ''happiness'' is used in the context of Mental health, mental or emotional states, including positive or Pleasure, pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. It is also used in the context of life satisfaction, subj ...

happiness
.
Sports Sport pertains to any form of competitive Competition is a rivalry A rivalry is the state of two people or groups engaging in a lasting competitive relationship. Rivalry is the "against each other" spirit between two competing sides. ...

Sports
with defined rules will take place within designated play spaces, such as sports fields where, in
Soccer Association football, more commonly known as simply football or soccer, is a team sport A team sport includes any sport Sport pertains to any form of Competition, competitive physical activity or game that aims to use, maintain ...

Soccer
for example, players kick a ball in a certain direction and push opponents out of their way as they do so. While appropriate within the sport's play space, these same behaviors might be inappropriate or even illegal outside the playing field. Other designed play spaces can be
playgrounds A playground, playpark, or play area is a place designed to provide an environment for child Biologically, a child (plural children) is a human being between the stages of childbirth, birth and puberty, or between the Development of the ...

playgrounds
with dedicated equipment and structures to promote active and social play. Some play spaces go even farther in specialization to bring the play indoors and will often charge admission as seen at
Children's MuseumsImage:Buell Childrens Museum by David Shankbone.jpg, The Buell Children's Museum in Pueblo, Colorado was ranked #2 children's art museum in the United States by ''Child Magazine''. Children's museums are institutions that provide exhibits and progra ...
,
Science CentersScience center may refer to: * * Science center, a complex of science research institutes located in close vicinity to each other Science centers, {{disambig ...
, or Family Entertainment Centers. Family Entertainment Centers (or Play Zones) are typically businesses purely for play and entertainment, while Children's Museums and Science Centers are typically
Non-Profit A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a collective, public or social benefit, in contrast with an entity that o ...
organizations for educational entertainment. The California-based National Institute for Play describes seven play patterns: # Attunement play, which establishes a connection, such as between newborn and mother. # Body play, in which an infant explores the ways in which his or her body works and interacts with the world, such as making funny sounds or discovering what happens in a fall. # Object play, such as playing with toys, banging pots and pans, handling physical things in ways that use curiosity. # Social play, play which involves others in activities such as tumbling, making faces, and building connections with another child or group of children. # Imaginative or pretend play, in which a child invents scenarios from his or her imagination and acts within them as a form of play, such as princess or pirate play. # Storytelling play, the play of learning and language that develops intellect, such as a parent reading aloud to a child, or a child retelling the story in his or her own words. # Creative play, by which one plays with imagination to transcend what is known in the current state, to create a higher state. For example, a person might experiment to find a new way to use a musical instrument, thereby taking that form of music to a higher plane; or, as Einstein was known to do, a person might wonder about things which are not yet known and play with unproven ideas as a bridge to the discovery of new knowledge. Separate from self-initiated play,
play therapy Play therapy refers to a range of methods of capitalising on children's natural urge to explore and harnessing it to meet and respond to the developmental and later also their mental health needs. It is also used for forensic Forensic scienc ...
is used as a clinical application of play aimed at treating children who suffer from trauma, emotional issues and other problems.


Children

In young children, play is frequently associated with
cognitive development Cognitive development is a field of study in neuroscience Neuroscience is the science, scientific study of the nervous system. It is a Multidisciplinary approach, multidisciplinary science that combines physiology, anatomy, molecular biology, ...
and
socialization In sociology, socialization is the process of Internalisation (sociology), internalizing the Norm (social), norms and Ideology, ideologies of society. Socialization encompasses both learning and teaching and is thus "the means by which social an ...
. Play that promotes
learning Learning is the process of acquiring new understanding Understanding is a psychological process related to an abstract or physical thing, such as a person, situation, or message whereby one is able to use concepts to model that thing. Under ...

learning
and recreation often incorporates
toys A toy is an item that is used primarily by children though may also be marketed to adults under certain circumstances. Playing with toys can be an enjoyable means of training young children for life experiences. Different materials like wood, c ...

toys
, props,
tools A tool is an object that can extend an individual's ability to modify features of the surrounding environment. Although many animals use tool use by animals, simple tools, only human beings, whose use of stone tools dates back Paleolithic, hund ...

tools
or other
playmates Playmates or Playmate may refer to: * Playboy Playmate, ''Playboy'' Playmate, a female model featured in the centerfold/gatefold of ''Playboy'' Film and television * Playmates (1915 film), ''Playmates'' (1915 film), directed by Mauritz Stiller * ...
. Play can consist of an amusing, pretend or imaginary activity alone or with another. Some forms of play are rehearsals or trials for later life events, such as "play fighting", pretend social encounters (such as parties with dolls), or flirting. Modern findings in
neuroscience Neuroscience is the scientific study of the nervous system In biology, the classical doctrine of the nervous system determines that it is a Complex system, highly complex part of an animal that coordinates its Behavior, actions and Sens ...

neuroscience
suggest that play promotes flexibility of mind, including adaptive practices such as discovering multiple ways to achieve a desired result, or creative ways to improve or reorganize a given situation (Millar, 1967; Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000). As children get older, they engage in board games, video games and computer play, and in this context the word
gameplay Gameplay is the specific way in which player Player may refer to: Role or adjective * Player (game), a participant in a game or sport ** Gamer, a player in video games ** Player character, a character in a video game or role playing game who i ...

gameplay
is used to describe the concept and theory of play and its relationship to rules and game design. In their book, ''Rules of Play'', researchers Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman outline 18 schemas for games, using them to define "play", "interaction" and "design" formally for behaviorists. Similarly, in his book ''Half-Real: Video Games between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds'', game researcher and theorist Jesper Juul explores the relationship between real rules and unreal scenarios in play, such as winning or losing a game in the real world when played together with real-world friends, but doing so by slaying a dragon in the fantasy world presented in the shared video game. Play is explicitly recognized in Article 31 of the
Convention on the Rights of the Child The United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization An intergovernmental organization (IGO) is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states (referred to as ''member states''), or of other org ...

Convention on the Rights of the Child
(adopted by the General Assembly of the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization aiming to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harm ...

United Nations
, November 29, 1989), which declares: * Parties recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts. * Parties shall respect and promote the right of the child to participate fully in cultural and artistic life and shall encourage the provision of appropriate and equal opportunities for cultural, artistic, recreational and leisure activities.


History of childhood playtime

American historian Howard Chudacoff has studied the interplay between parental control of
toy A toy is an item that is used primarily by children though may also be marketed to adults under certain circumstances. Playing with toys can be an enjoyable means of training young children for life experiences. Different materials like wood, ...

toy
s and games and children's drive for freedom to play. In the colonial era, toys were makeshift and children taught each other very simple games with little adult supervision. The market economy of the 19th century enabled the modern concept of childhood as a distinct, happy life stage. Factory-made dolls and doll houses delighted young girls. Organized sports filtered down from adults and colleges, and boys learned to play with a bat, a ball and an impromptu playing field.


20th Century

With the rise of motor vehicle traffic in the 20th century, teenagers were increasingly organized into club sports supervised and coached by adults, with swimming taught at
summer camp A summer camp or sleepaway camp is a supervised program for child Biologically, a child (plural children) is a human being between the stages of childbirth, birth and puberty, or between the Development of the human body, developmental per ...

summer camp
s and through supervised playgrounds. Under the
New Deal The New Deal was a series of programs, public work projects, financial reforms, and regulations Regulation is the management of complex systems according to a set of rules and trends. In systems theory Systems theory is the interdisciplinar ...
's
Works Progress Administration The Works Progress Administration (WPA; renamed in 1939 as the Work Projects Administration) was an American New Deal agency, employing millions of jobseekers (mostly men who were not formally educated) to carry out public works projects, includ ...
, thousands of local playgrounds and ball fields opened, promoting softball especially as a sport for all ages and both sexes. By the 21st century, Chudacoff notes, the old tension between parental controls and a child's individual freedom was being played out in
cyberspace Cyberspace is a concept describing a widespread interconnected digital technology. "The expression dates back from the first decade of the diffusion of the internet. It refers to the online world as a world 'apart', as distinct from everyday rea ...
.


Cultural differences of play

The act of play time is a cross-cultural phenomenon that is universally accepted and encouraged by most communities; however, it can differ in the ways that is performed. Some cultures, such as Euro-American cultural heritages, encourage play time in order to stress cognitive benefits and the importance of learning how to care for one's self. Other cultures, such as people of African American or Asian American heritages, stress more group oriented learning and play where kids can learn what they can do with and for others. Parent interactions when it comes to playtime also differs drastically within communities. Parents in the Mayan culture do interact with their children in a playful mindset while parents in the United States tend to set aside time to play and teach their children through games and activities. In the Mayan community, children are supported in their playing but also encouraged to play while watching their parents do household work in order to become familiar with how to follow in their footsteps. All around the world, children use different natural materials like stones, water, sand, leaves, fruits, sticks and a variety of resources to play. In addition, there are groups that have access to crafts, industrialized toys, electronics and video-games. In Australia, games and sports are part of play. There, play can be considered as preparation for life and self- expression, like in many other countries. Groups of children in Efe of the Democratic Republic of Congo can be seen making ‘food’ from dirt or pretending to shoot bows and arrows much like their elders. These activities are similar to other forms of play worldwide. For instance, children can be seen comforting their toy dolls or animals, anything that they have modeled from adults in their communities. In Brazil, we can find children playing with balls, kites, marbles, pretend houses or mud kitchens, like in many other countries. In smaller communities they use mud balls, little stones or cashews to replace marbles. At an indigenous community of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in Colombia, children's play is highly valued and encouraged by leaders and parents. They interact with the children of different ages and explore together different environments to let the children express themselves as part of the group. Some children in the Sahara use clay figures as their forms of playful toys. Toys in general are a representation of cultural practices. They usually illustrate characters and objects of a community. Play time can be used as a way for children to learn the different ways of their culture. Many communities use play to emulate work. The way in which children mimic work through their play can differ according to the opportunities they have access to, but it is something that tends to be promoted by adults.


Sports

Sportive activities are one of the most universal forms of play. Different continents have their own popular/dominant sports. For example,
Europea Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of scienc ...
n,
South America South America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continent ...

South America
n, and
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', ...

Africa
n countries enjoy
soccer Association football, more commonly known as simply football or soccer, is a team sport A team sport includes any sport Sport pertains to any form of Competition, competitive physical activity or game that aims to use, maintain ...
(also known as ‘football’ in
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of scienc ...

Europe
), while
North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continen ...

North America
n countries prefer
basketball Basketball is a team sport in which two teams, most commonly of five players each, opposing one another on a rectangular court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, ...

basketball
,
ice hockey Ice hockey is a contact Contact may refer to: Interaction Physical interaction * Contact (geology)A geological contact is a boundary which separates one rock body from another. A contact can be formed during deposition, by the intrusio ...

ice hockey
,
baseball Baseball is a bat-and-ball gameBat-and-ball may refer to: *Bat-and-ball games Bat-and-ball games (or safe haven games) are field games played by two opposing teams, in which the action starts when the defending team throws a ball at ...

baseball
, or
American football American football, referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular American football field, field with goalposts at each end. ...

American football
. In
Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and Northern Hemisphere, Northern Hemisphere of the Earth, Hemispheres. It shares the continental landmass of Eurasia with the cont ...

Asia
, sports such as
table tennis Table tennis, also known as ping-pong and whiff-whaff, is a sport in which two or four players hit a lightweight ball, also known as the ping-pong ball, back and forth across a table using small rackets. The game takes place on a hard table div ...

table tennis
and
badminton Badminton is a racquet sport played using racquets to hit a shuttlecock Plastic shuttlecock A shuttlecock (also called a bird or birdie) is a high-drag projectile used in the sport of badminton Badminton is a racquet sport played ...

badminton
are played professionally; however
soccer Association football, more commonly known as simply football or soccer, is a team sport A team sport includes any sport Sport pertains to any form of Competition, competitive physical activity or game that aims to use, maintain ...

soccer
and
basketball Basketball is a team sport in which two teams, most commonly of five players each, opposing one another on a rectangular court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, ...

basketball
are played amongst common folks, with
cricket Cricket is a Bat-and-ball games, bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players each on a cricket field, field at the centre of which is a cricket pitch, pitch with a wicket at each end, each comprising two Bail (cricket), bai ...

cricket
popular in
South Asia South Asia is the southern region of Asia Asia () is 's largest and most populous , located primarily in the and . It shares the continental of with the continent of and the continental landmass of with both Europe and . Asia cov ...

South Asia
. Events such as The
Olympic Games The modern Olympic Games or Olympics (french: Jeux olympiques) are leading international sporting events featuring summer and winter sports competitions in which thousands of athletes An athlete (also sportsman or sportswoman) is a pe ...
and
FIFA World Cup The FIFA World Cup, often simply called the World Cup, is an international association football Association football, more commonly known as simply football or soccer, is a played with a between two teams of 11 . It is played by ...
showcase countries competing with each other and are broadcast all over the world.
Sports Sport pertains to any form of competitive Competition is a rivalry A rivalry is the state of two people or groups engaging in a lasting competitive relationship. Rivalry is the "against each other" spirit between two competing sides. ...

Sports
can be played as a
leisure Leisure has often been defined as a quality of experience or as free time. Free time is time Time is the continued sequence of existence and event (philosophy), events that occurs in an apparently irreversible process, irreversible s ...

leisure
activity or within a
competition Competition is a rivalry A rivalry is the state of two people or groups engaging in a lasting competitive relationship. Rivalry is the "against each other" spirit between two competing sides. The relationship itself may also be called "a ri ...
. According to sociologist
Norbert Elias Norbert Elias (; 22 June 1897 – 1 August 1990) was a German sociologist who later became a British citizen. He is especially famous for his theory of civilizing/decivilizing processes. Biography Elias was born on 22 June 1897 in Breslau ...
; it is an important part of "civilization process".
Victory The term victory (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of ...

Victory
and in sports can influence one's
emotions Emotions are psychological state A mental state is a state of mind that an agent is in. Most simplistically, a mental state is a mental condition. It is a relation that connects the agent with a proposition. Several of these states are a comb ...

emotions
to a point where everything else seems irrelevant. Sport fans can also imagine what it feels like to play for their preferred team. The feelings people experience can be so surreal that it affects their emotions and behavior.


Benefits in youth

Youth sport can provide a positive outcome for youth development. Research shows adolescents are more motivated and engaged in sports than any other activity, and these conditions predict a richer personal and
interpersonal The concept of interpersonal relationship involves social associations, connections, or affiliations between two or more people. Interpersonal relationships vary in their degree of intimacy or self-disclosure, but also in their duration, in th ...
development. Anxiety, depression and obesity can stem from lack of activity and social interaction. There is a high correlation between the amount of time that youth spend playing
sports Sport pertains to any form of competitive Competition is a rivalry A rivalry is the state of two people or groups engaging in a lasting competitive relationship. Rivalry is the "against each other" spirit between two competing sides. ...

sports
and the effects of
physical Physical may refer to: *Physical examination, a regular overall check-up with a doctor *Physical (album), ''Physical'' (album), a 1981 album by Olivia Newton-John **Physical (Olivia Newton-John song), "Physical" (Olivia Newton-John song) *Physical ( ...
(e.g., better general health),
psychological Psychology is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and organizes knowledge in the form of Testability, testable explanations and predictions about the universe."... modern science is ...
(e.g., subjective well-being),
academic An academy (Attic Greek: Ἀκαδήμεια; Koine Greek Ἀκαδημία) is an institution of secondary education, secondary or tertiary education, tertiary higher education, higher learning, research, or honorary membership. Academia is the ...

academic
(e.g., school grades), and
social benefits Welfare is a type of government support intended to ensure that members of a society can meet basic human needs such as food and shelter. Social security may either be synonymous with welfare, or refer specifically to ''social insurance'' pro ...
(e.g., making friends). Electronics over the past 10 years have been looked as a form of playtime but researchers have found that most electronic play leads to lack of motivation, no social interaction and can lead to obesity. Play is originally based on the idea of children using their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, physical, cognitive and emotional strength. Dramatic play is common in younger children. For the youth community to benefit from playtime, the following are recommended: * Give children ample, unscheduled time to be creative to reflect and decompress * Give children “true” toys, such as blocks or dolls for creativity * Youth should have a group of supportive people around them (teammates, coaches, and parents) with positive relationships * Youth should possess skill development; such as physical, interpersonal, and knowledge about the sport * Youth should be able to make their own decisions about their sport participation * Youth should have experiences that are on par with their certain needs and developmental level


Research findings on benefits in youth

With regular participation in a variety of sports, children can develop and become more proficient at various sports skills (including, but not limited to,
jumping Jumping or leaping is a form of locomotion or movement in which an organism In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical ...

jumping
,
kicking A kick is a physical Strike (attack), strike using the leg, in unison usually with an area of the knee or lower using the foot, heel, tibia (shin), ball of the foot, blade of the foot, toes or knee (the latter is also known as a knee (strike), ...
,
running Running is a method of terrestrial locomotion Terrestrial locomotion has evolved Evolution is change in the heritable Heredity, also called inheritance or biological inheritance, is the passing on of Phenotypic trait, traits from ...

running
,
throwing Throwing is the launching of a ballistic projectile by hand. This action is only possible for animals with the ability to grasp objects with their hands (mainly primate A primate ( ) (from Latin , from 'prime, first rank') is a eutherian ...
, etc.) if the focus is on skill mastery and development. Young people participating in sports also develop
agility Agility or nimbleness is an ability to change the body's position efficiently, and requires the integration of isolated movement skills using a combination of balance Balance may refer to: Common meanings * Balance (ability) in biomechanics * B ...

agility
,
coordination Coordination may refer to: * Coordination (linguistics) In linguistics, coordination is a complex syntactic In linguistics, syntax () is the set of rules, principles, and processes that govern the structure of Sentence (linguistics), sentence ...
,
endurance Endurance (also related to sufferance, resilience, constitution A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents that constitute the legal basis of a polity, organisation An organization, or o ...

endurance
,
flexibility Stiffness is the extent to which an object resists deformation Deformation can refer to: * Deformation (engineering), changes in an object's shape or form due to the application of a force or forces. ** Deformation (mechanics), such changes co ...

flexibility
,
speed In everyday use and in kinematics Kinematics is a subfield of physics, developed in classical mechanics, that describes the Motion (physics), motion of points, bodies (objects), and systems of bodies (groups of objects) without considerin ...

speed
, and
strength Physical strength *Physical strength, as in people or animals *Hysterical strength, extreme strength occurring when people are in life-and-death situations *Superhuman strength, great physical strength far above human capability *A common attrib ...
. More specifically, young
athletes An athlete (also sportsman or sportswoman) is a person who competes in one or more sport Sport pertains to any form of competitive Competition is a rivalry A rivalry is the state of two people or groups engaging in a lasting com ...

athletes
could develop the following : * enhanced functioning and health of cardiorespiratory and
muscular system The muscular system is an organ system An organ system is a biological system A biological system is a complex biological network, network which connects several biologically relevant entities. Biological organization spans several scales and ...

muscular system
s * improved
flexibility Stiffness is the extent to which an object resists deformation Deformation can refer to: * Deformation (engineering), changes in an object's shape or form due to the application of a force or forces. ** Deformation (mechanics), such changes co ...

flexibility
, mobility, and
coordination Coordination may refer to: * Coordination (linguistics) In linguistics, coordination is a complex syntactic In linguistics, syntax () is the set of rules, principles, and processes that govern the structure of Sentence (linguistics), sentence ...
* increased and
strength Physical strength *Physical strength, as in people or animals *Hysterical strength, extreme strength occurring when people are in life-and-death situations *Superhuman strength, great physical strength far above human capability *A common attrib ...
* increased likelihood of maintaining weight Moreover, research shows that regular participation in sport and physical activity is highly associated with lowering the risk of
diabetes Diabetes mellitus, commonly known as just diabetes, is a group of metabolic disorder A metabolic disorder is a disorder that negatively alters the body's processing and distribution of macronutrients such as proteins, fats, and carbohydrate ...

diabetes
,
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,
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, and other related diseases. According to research by the Australian Early Childhood Mental Health Initiative, children can be assisted in dealing with and managing stress by developing their sense of optimism when playing sports. Young people also tend to be more nutrition-conscious in their food choices when participating in sport Girls involved in sport tend associate with lower chance of teenage
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, begin
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, and/or developing
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. Young athletes have shown lower levels of total
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and other favorable profiles in serum lipid parameters associated with
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. Sport provides an arena for young people to be physically active and in result reduce the time spent in sedentary pursuits, such as watching and playing
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.


Adults

Although adults who engage in excessive amounts of play may find themselves described as "childish" or "young at heart" by less playful adults, play is an important activity, regardless of age. Creativity and happiness can result from adult play, where the objective can be more than fun alone, as in adult expression of the arts, or curiosity-driven science."Tim Brown on Creativity and Play,"
TED talks
Some adult "hobbies" are examples of such creative play. In creative professions, such as design, playfulness can remove more serious attitudes (such as shame or embarrassment) that impede brainstorming or artistic experimentation in design. Imaginative play and role play may allow adult individuals to practice useful habits such as
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, which is helpful in managing fear or terrors. Play also offers adults the opportunity to practice concepts that may not have been explicitly or formally taught (e.g. how to manage misinformation or deceit). Thus, even though play is just one of many tools used by effective adults, it remains a necessary one.


Workplace

There has been extensive research when it comes to the benefits of play amongst
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. Most commonly overlooked are the benefits of play for adults, more specifically, adults who spend a lot of time in the workplace. Many adults in North America are in the workforce and spend half of their waking hours in a workplace environment with little to no time for play. Play in this context refers to leisure-type activities with colleagues during lunch breaks or short breaks throughout the working day. Leisure activities could include, but are not limited to, different forms of physical
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activities,
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and interaction-based type video
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, ping-pong, yoga, and boot-camp sessions. Research shows that playing games may promote a persistent and optimistic motivational style and positive affect.Ventura et al., 2013 Positive affect enhances people's experiences, enjoyment, and sense of Contentment, satisfaction derived from the activity, during their engagement with a certain task. While people are engaged in their work, positive affect increases the satisfaction they feel from the work, and this has also been shown to increase their creativity and improve their performance on problem-solving tasks as well as other tasks. The development of a persistent motivational style charged with positive affect may lead to lasting work success. Studies show that work and play are mutually supportive. Employees need to experience the sense of newness, flow (psychology), flow, discovery (observation), discovery and liveliness that play provides. By doing this, it will provide the employee with the sense that they are integrated within the organization, and therefore they will feel and perform better. By incorporating play at work, it will also result in more productivity, creativity and innovation, higher job satisfaction, greater workplace morale, stronger or new social bonds, improved job performance, a decrease in staff turnover, absenteeism and stress. Decreased stress leads to less illness, which results in lower health care costs. Play at work may help employees function and cope when under stress, refresh body and mind, encourage teamwork, trigger creativity, and increase energy while preventing burnout. Studies show that companies that encourage play at work, whether short breaks throughout the day or during lunch breaks experience more success because it leads to positive emotion amongst employees. Risk taking, confidence in presenting novel ideas, and embracing unusual and fresh perspectives are common characteristics associated with play at work. Play can increase self-reported job satisfaction and well-being. Employees experiencing positive emotions are more cooperative, more social, and perform better when faced with complex tasks. Contests, team-building exercises, fitness programs, mental health breaks and other social activities, will make the work environment fun, interactive, and rewarding. Also playfighting, i.e. playful fights or fictive disputes, may contribute to organizations and institutions, as in youth care settings. Staff tries to down-key playfight invitations to “treatment” or “learning,” but playfighting also offers youth and staff identificatory respite from the institutional regime. Wästerfors (2016) has found that playfighting is a recurrent pattern in the social life of a youth care institution and sits at the core of what inmates and staff have to deal with


Seniors

Older adults represent one of the fastest growing populations around the world. In fact, the
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predicted an increase of those aged 60 and above from 629 million in 2002 to approximately two billion in 2050 but increased life expectancy does not necessarily translate to a better quality of life. For this reason, research has begun to investigate methods to maintain and/or improve quality of life among older adults. Similar to the data surrounding children and adults, play and activity are associated with improved health and quality of life among seniors. Additionally, play and activity tend to affect successful aging as well as boost well-being throughout the lifespan. Although children, adults, and seniors all tend to benefit from play, older adults often perform it in unique ways to account for possible issues, such as health restrictions, limited accessibility, and revised priorities. For this reason, elderly people may partake in physical exercise groups, interactive
video games#REDIRECT Video game#REDIRECT Video game A video game is an electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface or input device such as a joystick, game controller, controller, computer keyboard, keyboard, or motion sensing device ...

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, and social forums specifically geared towards their needs and interests. One qualitative research study found older adults often chose to engage in specific games such as dominoes, checkers, and Bingo (U.S.), bingo for entertainment. Another study indicated a common pattern within game preferences among older adults; seniors often favor activities that encourage mental and physical fitness, incorporate past interests, have some level of competition, and foster a sense of belonging. Researchers investigating play in older adults are also interested in the benefits of technology and video games as therapeutic tools. Studies show these outlets can lower the risk of developing particular diseases, reduce feelings of social isolation and stress, as well as promote creativity and the maintenance of cognitive skills. As a result, play has been integrated into physiotherapy and occupational therapy interventions for seniors.Jung, Y., Li, K.J., Ng, J.S., Wong, G.L.C., & Lee, K. (2009). Proceedings from the 6th Australasian Conference on Interactive Entertainment. Australia. retrieved from hdl.handle.net
/ref> The ability to incorporate play into one's routine is important because these activities allow participants to express creativity, improve verbal and non-verbal intelligence as well as enhance balance. These benefits may be especially crucial to seniors because evidence shows cognitive and physical functioning declines with age. However, other research argues it might not be aging that is associated with the decline in cognitive and physical capabilities. More specifically, some studies indicate it could be the higher levels of inactivity within older adults that may have significant ramifications on their health and well-being. With attention to these hypotheses, research shows play and activity tend to decline with age which may result in negative outcomes such as social isolation, depression, and mobility issues. American studies found that only 24% of seniors took part in regular physical activity and only 42% use the internet for entertainment purposes. In comparison to other age groups, the elderly are more likely to experience a variety of barriers, such as difficulty with environmental hazards and accessibility related issues, that may hinder their abilities to execute healthy play behaviours. Similarly, although playing may benefit seniors, it also has the potential to negatively impact their health. For example, those who play may be more susceptible to injury. Investigating these barriers may assist in the creation of useful interventions and/or the development of preventative measures, such as establishing safer recreational areas, that promote the maintenance of play behaviours throughout elderly life. A significant amount of literature suggests a moderate level of play has numerous positive outcomes in the lives of senior citizens. In order to support and promote play within the older population, studies suggest institutions should set up more diverse equipment, improve conditions within recreational areas, and create more video games or online forums that appeal to the needs of seniors.


Other animals

Evolutionary psychologists believe that there must be an important benefit of play, as there are so many reasons to avoid it. Many animals are often injured during play, become distracted from predators, and expend valuable energy. In rare cases, play has even been observed between different species that are natural enemies such as a polar bear and a dog. Yet play seems to be a normal activity with animals who occupy the higher strata of their own hierarchy of needs. Animals on the lower strata, e.g. stressed and starving animals, generally do not play. However, in wild Assamese macaques physically active play is performed also during periods of low food availability and even if it is at the expense of growth, which strongly highlights the developmental and evolutionary importance of play. The social cognitive complexity of numerous species, including dogs, have recently been explored in experimental studies. In one such study, conducted by Alexandra Horowitz of the University of California, the communication and attention-getting skills of dogs were investigated. In a natural setting, dyadic play behavior was observed; head-direction and posture was specifically noted. When one of the two dogs was facing away or otherwise preoccupied, attention-getting behaviors and signals (nudging, barking, growling, pawing, jumping, etc.) were used by the other dog to communicate the intent and/or desire to continue on with the dyadic play. Stronger or more frequent signaling was used if the attention of the other dog was not captured. These observations tell us that these dogs know how play behavior and signaling can be used to capture attention, communicate intent and desire, and manipulate one another. This characteristic and skill, called the "attention-getting skill" has generally only been seen in humans, but is now being researched and seen in many different species. Observing play behavior in various species can tell much about the player's environment (including the welfare of the animal), personal needs, social rank (if any), immediate relationships, and eligibility for mating. Play activity, often observed through action and signals, often serves as a tool for communication and expression. Through mimicry, chasing, biting, and touching, animals will often act out in ways so as to send messages to one another; whether it's an alert, initiation of play, or expressing intent. When play behavior was observed for a study in Tonkean macaques, it was discovered that play signals weren't always used to initiate play; rather, these signals were viewed primarily as methods of communication (sharing information and attention-getting). One theory – "play as preparation" – was inspired by the observation that play often mimics adult themes of survival. Predators such as lions and bears play by chasing, pouncing, pawing, wrestling, and biting, as they learn to stalk and kill prey. Prey animals such as deer and zebras play by running and leaping as they acquire speed and agility. Hoofed mammals also practice kicking their hind legs to learn to ward off attacks. Indeed, time spent in physical play accelerates motor skill acquisition in wild Assamese macaques. While mimicking adult behavior, attacking actions such as kicking and biting are not completely fulfilled, so playmates do not generally injure each other. In social animals, playing might also help to establish dominance rankings among the young to avoid conflicts as adults. John Byers, a zoologist at the University of Idaho, discovered that the amount of time spent at play for many mammals (e.g. rats and cats) peaks around puberty, and then drops off. This corresponds to the development of the cerebellum, suggesting that play is not so much about practicing ''exact'' behaviors, as much as building general connections in the brain. Sergio Pellis and colleagues at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, discovered that play may shape the brain in other ways, too. Young mammals have an overabundance of brain cells in their cerebrum (the outer areas of the brain – part of what distinguishes mammals). There is evidence that play helps the brain clean up this excess of cells, resulting in a more efficient cerebrum at maturity. Marc Bekoff (a University of Colorado evolutionary biologist) proposes a "flexibility" hypothesis that attempts to incorporate these newer neurological findings. It argues that play helps animals learn to switch and improvise all behaviors more effectively, to be prepared for the unexpected. There may, however, be other ways to acquire even these benefits of play: the concept of equifinality. The idea is that the social benefits of play for many animals, for example, could instead be garnered by grooming. Patrick Bateson maintains that equifinality is exactly what play teaches. In accordance with the flexibility hypothesis, play may teach animals to avoid "false endpoints". In other words, they will harness the childlike tendency to keep playing with something that works "well enough", eventually allowing them to come up with something that might work better, if only in some situations. This also allows mammals to build up various skills that could come in handy in entirely novel situations. A study on two species of monkeys ''Semnopithecus entellus'' and ''Macaca mulatta'' that came into association with each other during food provisioning by pilgrims at the Ambagarh Forest Reserve, near Jaipur, India, shows the interspecific interaction that developed between the juveniles of the two species when opportunity presented itself.


Development and learning

Learning through play has been long recognized as a critical aspect of childhood and child development. Some of the earliest studies of play started in the 1890s with G. Stanley Hall, the father of the child study movement that sparked an interest in the developmental, mental and behavioral world of babies and children. Play also promotes healthy development of parent-child bonds, establishing social, emotional and cognitive developmental milestones that help them relate to others, manage stress, and learn resiliency. Modern research in the field of affective neuroscience (the neural mechanisms of emotion) has uncovered important links between role play and neurogenesis in the brain. For example, researcher
Roger Caillois Roger Caillois (; 3 March 1913 – 21 December 1978) was a French intellectual An intellectual is a person who engages in critical thinking, research Research is "creativity, creative and systematic work undertaken to increase the ...
used the word ''ilinx'' to describe the momentary disruption of perception that comes from forms of physical play that disorient the senses, especially balance. Studies have found that play and coping to daily stressors to be positively correlated in children. By playing, children regulate their emotions and this is important for adaptive functioning because without regulation, emotions could be overwhelming and stressful. Evolutionary psychologists have begun to explore the Phylogenetics, phylogenetic relationship between higher intelligence in humans and its relationship to play, i.e., the relationship of play to the progress of whole evolutionary groups as opposed to the psychological implications of play to a specific individual.


Physical, mental and social

Various forms of play, whether it is physical or mental, have influenced cognitive abilities in individuals. As little as ten minutes of exercise (including physical play), can improve cognitive abilities. These researchers did a study and have developed an "exergame" which is a game that incorporates some physical movement but is by no means formal exercise. These games increase one's heart rate to the level of aerobics exercise and have proven to result in recognizable improvements in mental faculties In this study they use play in a way that incorporates physical activity that creates physical excursions. The results of the study had statistical significance. There were improvements in math by 3.4% and general improvements in recall memory by 4% among the participants of the study. On the other hand, other research has focused on the cognitive effects of mentally stimulating play. Playing video games is one of the most common mediums of play for children and adults today. There has been mixed reviews on the effects of video games. Despite this, according to a research conducted by Hollis (2014), "[playing video games] was positively associated with skills strongly related to academic success, such as time management, attention, executive control, memory, and spatial abilities – when playing video game occurs in moderation". Play can also influence one's social development and social interactions. Much of the research focuses on the influence play has on child social development. There are different forms of play that have been noted to influence child social development. One study conducted by (Sullivan, 2003) explores the influence of playing styles with mothers versus playing styles with fathers and how it influences child social development. This article explains that "integral to positive development is the child's social competence or, more precisely, the ability to regulate their own emotions and behaviors in the social contexts of early childhood to support the effective accomplishment of relevant developmental tasks. Social benefits of play have been measured using basic interpersonal values such as getting along with peers.Sullivan, C. (2003)
The benefits of parent-child play for the social development of preschoolers with varying levels of anxiety problems
ProQuest, UMI Dissertations.
One of the social benefits that this researcher has uncovered is that play with parents has proven to reduce anxiety in children. Having play time with parents that involves socially acceptable behaviour makes it easier for children to relate to be more socially adjusted to peers at school or at play Social development involving child interaction with peers is thus an area of influence for playful interactions with parents and peers.


Play in educational practices


Anji play

Anji play (安吉游戏 in simplified Chinese, 安吉遊戲 in traditional Chinese) is an educational method based on children's self-directed play in outside spaces, using simple tools made of natural material. The teachers and instructors only observe and document the children's independent play. The method was created by Cheng Xueqin and is organized in two hours of free play when the children choose the available material they want to use and build structures to play. While planning, experimenting, building and using the structures to play, the children have the opportunity to interact with peers, to think critically about what may work, to discuss the plan and organize the construction hard work. The process is observed and recorded by the teachers and instructors without intervention, even in instances of possible risk. Before and after the two hours of play, the children have the opportunity to express their plans and discuss with their peers. After the play, they get the opportunity to draw, write or explain what they did. Then, they watch the videos recorded the same day and explain how they played and comment on each other's creations. Anji play is also called “true play” and its guiding principles are love, risk, joy, engagement, and reflection. This method of self-initiated and self-directed play is applied at the pre-schools (to children from 3 to 6 years-old) in Anji county, East China.


References


Further reading

* Caillois, R. (2001). Man, play, and games. Urbana and Chicago, University of Illinois Press (originally published in 1958; translated from the French by Meyer Barash).
Encyclopedia: Play Science
Scholarpedia * Huizinga, J. (1955). Homo ludens; a study of the play-element in culture. Boston: Beacon Press. * Jenkinson, Sally (2001). The Genius of Play. Hawthorn Press * Sutton-Smith, B. (1997). The ambiguity of play. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. * Burghardt, Gordon M. ''The Genesis of Animal Play: Testing the Limits'

* Wenner, M. (2009)
"The Serious Need for Play"
– Free, imaginative play is crucial for normal social, emotional and cognitive development. It makes us better adjusted, smarter and less stressed, Scientific American. * * Gray, P. (2013). Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life * Gray, P. (2008–2009)
"Social Play and the Genesis of Democracy""The Value of Play I: The Definition of Play Provides Clues to Its Purposes""The Value of Play II: How Play Promotes Reasoning in Children and Adults""The Value of Play III: Children Use Play to Confront, not Avoid, Life's Challenges and Even Life's Horrors""The Value of Play IV: Play is Nature's Way of Teaching Us New Skills""How to Ruin Children's Play: Supervise, Praise, Intervene"
Psychology Today. * Howard Taras, (2009). Journal of School Health. Physical Activity and School Performance. 75 (6), pp. 214–218 * Kortmulder, Koenraad (1998). Play and Evolution: Second Thoughts on the Behaviour of Animals, * Piaget, J. (1962). Play, dreams and imitation (Vol. 24). New York: Norton * Bateson, Gregory. (1955). A theory of play and fantasy. Psychiatric research reports,2(39), 39–51. Reprinted in ''Steps to an Ecology of Mind'', 1972. Chandler, and 2000, University of Chicago Press. * Stebbins, Robert A. (2015)
The Interrelationship of Leisure and Play: Play as Leisure, Leisure as Play
Houndmills, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. *


External links


The National Institute for Play

The Play Foundation


(International Play Association: Promoting the Child's Right to Play)
Creative Play
* Brown, Stuart (2008
Why play is vital – no matter your age
TEDtalks, TED.com {{Authority control Play (activity), Behavior Ethology Learning Childhood