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Barbu, S. et al. (2011) Boys and girls on the playground: sex differences in social development are not stable across early childhood (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Sex differences in human social behaviors and abilities have long been a question of public and scientific interest. Females are usually assumed to be more socially oriented and skillful than males. However, despite an extensive literature, the very existence of sex differences remains a matter of discussion while some studies found no sex differences whereas others reported differences that were either congruent or not with gender stereotypes. Moreover, the magnitude, consistency and stability across time of the differences remain an open question, especially during childhood. As play provides an excellent window into children's social development, we investigated whether and how sex differences change in social play across early childhood. Following a cross-sectional design, 164 children aged from 2 to 6 years old, divided into four age groups, were observed during outdoor free play at nursery school. We showed that sex differences are not stable over time evidencing a developmental gap between girls and boys. Social and structured forms of play emerge systematically earlier in girls than in boys leading to subsequent sex differences in favor of girls at some ages, successively in associative play at 3-4 years, cooperative play at 4-5 years, and social interactions with peers at 5-6 years. Preschool boys also display more solitary play than preschool girls, especially when young. Nevertheless, while boys catch up and girls move on towards more complex play, sex differences in social play patterns are reversed in favor of boys at the following ages, such as in associative play at 4-5 years and cooperative play at 5-6 years. This developmental perspective contributes to resolve apparent discrepancies between single-snapshot studies. A better understanding of the dynamics of sex differences in typical social development should also provide insights into atypical social developments which exhibit sex differences in prevalence, such as autism.

Date:
January 2011
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
6
Page/s:
e16407
Synonyms:
  • Cooperative play
  • Cross-sectional
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Free play
  • Parallel play
  • Peers play
  • Social play
  • Social-emotional
  • Solitary play
Research discipline:

Barrett, E. et al. (2014) Exposure to prenatal life events stress is associated with masculinized play behavior in girls (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Previous research has shown that prenatal exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals can alter children's neurodevelopment, including sex-typed behavior, and that it can do so in different ways in males and females. Non-chemical exposures, including psychosocial stress, may disrupt the prenatal hormonal milieu as well. To date, only one published study has prospectively examined the relationship between exposure to prenatal stress and gender-specific play behavior during childhood, finding masculinized play behavior in girls who experienced high prenatal life events stress, but no associations in boys. Here we examine this question in a second prospective cohort from the Study for Future Families. Pregnant women completed questionnaires on stressful life events during pregnancy, and those who reported one or more events were considered "stressed". Families were recontacted several years later (mean age of index child: 4.9 years), and mothers completed a questionnaire including the validated Preschool Activities Inventory (PSAI), which measures sexually dimorphic play behavior. In sex-stratified analyses, after adjusting for child's age, parental attitudes toward gender-atypical play, age and sex of siblings, and other relevant covariates, girls (n=72) exposed to prenatal life events stress had higher scores on the PSAI masculine sub-scale (β=3.48, p=0.006) and showed a trend toward higher (more masculine) composite scores (β=2.63, p=0.08). By contrast, in males (n=74), there was a trend toward an association between prenatal stress and higher PSAI feminine sub-scale scores (β=2.23, p=0.10), but no association with masculine or composite scores. These data confirm previous findings in humans and animal models suggesting that prenatal stress is a non-chemical endocrine disruptor that may have androgenic effects on female fetuses and anti-androgenic effects on male fetuses.

Date:
January 2014
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
41
Page/s:
20-27
Keyword/s:
Synonyms:
  • Longitudinal
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Brockman, R. et al. (2010) The contribution of active play to the physical activity of primary school children (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Objective
To examine associations between active play and the physical activity of 10- to 11-year-old children.
Method
Cross-sectional study of 747, 10- tot11-year-olds, conducted between February 2008 and March 2009 in Bristol, UK. Mean minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and mean activity levels (counts per minute, CPM) were assessed by accelerometer. Frequency of active play was self-reported.
Results
Regression models indicated that frequent active play (5 or more days per week) was associated with mean daily activity levels (CPM) (girls: p = < 0.01; boys: p = <0.01), but was only associated with mean daily MVPA for girls (p = < 0.01). For leisure-time physical activity, active play was associated with children's CPM (girls: p = 0.02; boys: p = < 0.01) and MVPA (girls: p = < 0.01; boys: p = 0.03) on weekdays after school, but was only associated with weekend day CPM for boys (p =<0.01).
Conclusion
Active play is associated with children's physical activity with after-school potentially being a critical period. Strategies to promote active play may prove to be a successful means of increasing children's physical activity.

Date:
January 2010
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
51
Page/s:
144-147
Synonyms:
  • Free play
  • Outdoor play
  • Physical health
  • Physical play
  • Well-being outcomes
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Feda, D. et al. (2012) Effect of increasing the choice of active options on children's physically active play (Journal Article)

Abstract:

bjectives: To determine whether increasing the choice of physical activity options increases the duration and intensity of children's physically active play. Design: This cross-sectional laboratory study included gender (male and female) and choice group [single toy (no choice), three toys (low choice), five toys (high choice)] as between participant factors. Methods: Boys and girls (. n=. 36, 8-12. y) were stratified, randomly assigned to a choice group that always provided access to each participant's most liked active toy(s), and allowed 60. min of free time. The same sedentary alternatives were freely available to all participants. Physical activity outcomes were measured by accelerometry, heart rate, and direct observation. Results: The number of active toys the children played with increased (. p<. 0.001) across each choice group. Minutes spent in MPA were greater in the low choice (. p<. 0.05) and high choice (. p<. 0.02) groups than the no choice group. Active playtime was greater (. p<. 0.01) in the low choice (79%) and high choice (95%) groups compared to the no choice group. Girls in the low and high choice groups had greater (. p<. 0.05) percent heart rate reserve when compared to girls in the no choice group. There was no difference in the boys' percent heart rate reserve between the no choice, low choice and high choice groups. Conclusions: Increasing the choice of active toys increases both the duration and intensity of physically active play, especially in girls. © 2011 Sports Medicine Australia.

Date:
January 2012
Volume:
15
Page/s:
334-340
Synonyms:
  • Experimental
  • Free play
  • Object play
  • Physical health
  • Physical play
  • Well-being outcomes
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Fehr, K. et al. (2013) Aggression in Pretend Play and Aggressive Behavior in the Classroom (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Research Findings: Pretend play is an essential part of child development and adjustment. However, parents, teachers, and researchers debate the function of aggression in pretend play. Different models of aggression predict that the expression of aggression in play could either increase or decrease actual aggressive behavior. The current study examined pretend play and classroom behavior in preschoolers. Children ("N" = 59) were administered a measure of pretend play, and teacher ratings of classroom behavior were obtained. Pretend play skills were positively associated with prosocial behavior in the classroom and negatively associated with physical aggression in the classroom. In particular, expression of oral aggression in play related to less physical aggression and more prosocial behavior in the classroom. Practice or Policy: These findings suggest that pretend play should be encouraged, as these skills relate to positive behaviors in the classroom. In addition, it was found that aggression in pretend play was not an indicator of actual aggressive behavior, as it related to positive behaviors in the classroom. Implications for parents and teachers are discussed. (Contains 2 tables.)

Date:
January 2013
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
24
Page/s:
332-345
Synonyms:
  • Affective behaviour
  • Correlational
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Play assessment
  • Pretend play
  • Social-emotional
  • Well-being outcomes
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Lillemyr, O. et al. (2010) Indigenous and non‐Indigenous primary school students’ attitudes on play, humour, learning and self‐concept: a comparative perspective (Journal Article)

Marcon, R. (1999) Differential impact of preschool models on development and early learning of inner-city children: A three-cohort study (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Three different preschool models operating in an urban school district were identified through cluster analysis of teacher responses to the Pre-K Survey of Beliefs and Practices. The language, self-help, social, motor, and adaptive development, along with mastery of basic skills, of 721 4-year-olds randomly selected from these models were compared. Children in the child-initiated model demonstrated greater mastery of basic skills than did children in programs in which academics were emphasized and skills were taught. Children in the combination model did significantly poorer on all measures except self-help and development of social coping skills compared with children in either the child-initiated or academically directed models. Girls outperformed boys in all areas except gross motor development and play and leisure skills. Implications for educational policymakers are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved). (journal abstract)

Author/s:
Date:
January 1999
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
35
Page/s:
358-375
Synonyms:
  • Academic outcomes
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Language
  • Literacy
  • Numeracy
Relevant age group/s:

Mullineaux, P. et al. (2009) Preschool pretend play behaviors and early adolescent creativity (Journal Article)

Panksepp, J. et al. (1984) The psychobiology of play: Theoretical and methodological perspectives (Journal Article)

Abstract:

The social play of pairs of juvenile rats can be brought under tight experimental control using social deprivation, and it can be objectively quantified by measurement of pinning behavior. Research and conceptual issues concerning this paired-encounter procedure are summarized, including issues related to (1) measurement, (2) gender differences (and the absence thereof), (3) relations between play and aggression, (4) the regulatory processes interacting with and underlying play, (5) the neurochemical and neuroanatomical substrates of play, (6) the functions of play in dominance and other adult behaviors. Existing results suggest the operation of a harmoniously operating brain process which generates a unique emotive brain process that is appropriately referred to as social play. Although the concept of play remains to be adequately defined, the position is advocated that rigorous psychobiological analysis will ultimately provide an empirical definition based upon neural circuit characteristics. Analysis of the underlying circuits may help reveal the manner in which more complex levels of behavioral competence arise ontogenetically, and work in the area may yield clues to the genesis of several psychopathologies.

Date:
January 1984
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
8
Page/s:
465-492
Synonyms:
  • Affective behaviour
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Experimental
  • Physical play
  • Rough and tumble
  • Social play
  • Social-emotional
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Sandseter, E. et al. (2011) Children's Risky Play from an Evolutionary Perspective: The Anti-Phobic Effects of Thrilling Experiences (Journal Article)

Abstract:

This theoretical article views children's risky play from an evolutionary perspective, addressing specific evolutionary functions and especially the anti-phobic effects of risky play. According to the non-associative theory, a contemporary approach to the etiology of anxiety, children develop fears of certain stimuli (e.g., heights and strangers) that protect them from situations they are not mature enough to cope with, naturally through infancy. Risky play is a set of motivated behaviors that both provide the child with an exhilarating positive emotion and expose the child to the stimuli they previously have feared. As the child's coping skills improve, these situations and stimuli may be mastered and no longer be feared. Thus fear caused by maturational and age relevant natural inhibition is reduced as the child experiences a motivating thrilling activation, while learning to master age adequate challenges. It is concluded that risky play may have evolved due to this anti-phobic effect in normal child development, and it is suggested that we may observe an increased neuroticism or psychopathology in society if children are hindered from partaking in age adequate risky play.

Date:
January 2011
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
9
Page/s:
147470491100900212
Synonyms:
  • Affective behaviour
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Free play
  • Literature review
  • Object play
  • Outdoor play
  • Physical play
  • Rough and tumble
  • Social-emotional
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline: