Study indicates kids who play socially attain better mental health. What does that mean for digital play?

A recent study has shown that children who learn to play well with others at preschool tend to enjoy better mental health in later life.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge analysed data from almost 1,700 children, collected between the ages of three and seven. The study showed a tendency towards lower hyperactivity and with fewer conduct and emotional problems among kids who played socially when young.

The link between cooperative play and mental health suggests how playing with others helps the development of emotional self-control. It also helped with socio-cognitive skills, such as the ability to understand and respond to other people’s feelings. This of course is a very important skill for anyone to have.

Certainly with digital play, social interactions have caused much debate among early childhood experts. This is especially true in the areas of young children’s social learning and development of those crucial social skills. Does this mean that screen time takes away from kids playing-together time? We say NO. 

Here at StoryToys we always strive to design our apps to be played in collaboration with others.  We take great care to design for children to play together, or for parents to play with their children. This isn’t just about enabling multi-touch, so that many fingers can interact with the screen. We also leave room in our apps for children’s imaginations so we can facilitate pretend-play. Pretend-play skills are vital to a child’s cognitive and language development.

Just because your child spends a lot of time using screens does not mean they will become socially awkward later in life. There are many factors that influence this. One of these is being mindful during the design phase of our apps that children love so that they share their digital play with peers and adults.

It’s also important to us to design apps that adults like too. This is why when you sit down with a StoryToys app with your child you’ll find it non-shouty, friendly, fun, often packed with comedy, but most importantly we leave room for imagination and conversation.