“Are they going to play nicely?” parents’ evaluations of young children’s play dates

Lacey, Alison J, Banerjee, Robin A and Lester, Kathryn J (2022) “Are they going to play nicely?” parents’ evaluations of young children’s play dates. Journal of Child and Family Studies. pp. 1-14. ISSN 1062-1024

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Over the last 20 years, opportunities for young children to engage in self-directed free play with peers outdoors or during the school day has dramatically declined. Consequently, it is likely that play dates, defined as pre-arranged social contact at home, have become increasingly significant play environments for children. Preliminary research suggests that play dates are positively associated with young children’s social and emotional development, but that access can be strongly influenced by parental social networking priorities. However, little is currently known about the nature and frequency of play dates, the types of play children engage in, or the impact of parental management and supervision on children’s play in this context. Exploratory qualitative research is essential to understand the extent to which parental gatekeeping may limit opportunities for children and families perceived to have low social capital, and to begin to define the nature and content of young children’s play dates more broadly. Parents of children aged 5-6 years old took part in a semi-structured interview to describe common practices and attitudes (N = 11). Inductive thematic analysis indicated that play dates are complex play environments that parents associate with a range of social, emotional, and cognitive benefits for children. However, close parental monitoring and supervision may limit the extent to which play dates provide opportunities for self-directed free play. Findings also show that access to play dates is strongly influenced by parents’ motivations to enhance children’s social status which restricts access to some children. Implications for future research are discussed.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Children, Play date, Qualitative, Supervision
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 06 Jan 2023 10:38
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2023 10:45
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/109998

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