Older children play too

Play Wales have just published an information sheet on play for children from 11 to 16 years. This publication comes at a time it is increasingly important to understand the needs of this age group.

The information sheet looks at:

  • Avoiding assumptions based on age alone
  • Understanding the adolescent brain
  • Play behaviours of older children and their benefits
  • Where older children play and why
  • Barriers to play and the social consequences
  • Providing for play.

This is from pages 6 and 7:

Barriers to play and the potential consequences

Adolescence is an exciting but challenging period of life when children are seeking greater independence from adults but also still reliant on them. For example, given that they are not yet allowed to drive, older children’s mobility is still largely dependent on adults making allowances for it. The way in which adults think about themwill therefore have a significant impact on older children’s ability to find time and space for playingwith their friends.

In General Comment 1720, the United Nations Committee of the Rights of the Child raises concerns about decreasing tolerance towards children’s presence in public spaces. It emphasises that this is a particular problem for older children who, largely as a consequence of negative media coverage, are perceived as a threat and therefore discouraged from using public spaces. However, as Peter Kraftl suggests ‘it is the treatment of and attitudes toward young people… which matters, fundamentally, to their self-esteem’21.

Older children are likely to withdraw from public spaces if they feel threatened or unwelcome, leading to a sense of disconnection from society22. Also, as Professor of Psychology Peter Grey argues, a decline in children’s time, space

and permission for play may be responsible for dramatic increases in adolescent mental health problems.

Providing for play

As Claire Edwards concludes in her discussion about the provision of public space for older children in the UK, there is an urgent need for: ‘spaces that allow young people to develop their own, and contribute to shared culture.
The adoption of a nurturing and civil attitude towards them from institutions, the media and public should be an imperative, as is the need to increase participation rates in the design and development of space’.

Research carried out in Wales to inform localauthority play sufficiency assessments identifiesthat older children need time and space where they can hang out, be themselves and do the things that older children do, without fear of reprisal or intrusive adult controls. Securing sufficient opportunities for play for all children must therefore include addressing the requirements of this older age group alongside those of younger children. Younger children and parents identify that improved provision for older children would help create more space for younger ones.

Find more information and download from here.


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