On ‘becoming social’: The importance of collaborative free play in childhood

Pamela Jarvis, Stephen Newman, Louise Swiniarski

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    There is increasing concern about declining mental health amongst children in the UK and the USA. Evolutionary and anthropological theorists have begun to build a theory linking this situation to decreasing opportunities to engage in free play. This paper will explore typical contexts for children in these nations, concluding that a range of recently emerging environments have decreased opportunities for collaborative peer free play and ‘discovery’ activities for the current generation. We will draw the theoretical analysis from a broad area of research encompassing psychology, anthropology, education, sociology, marketing, and philosophy to offer a new blend of practical and theoretical perspectives that may shed further light upon this topic.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)53-68
    Number of pages15
    JournalInternational Journal of Play
    Issue number1
    Early online date12 Feb 2014
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


    • collaborative free play
    • evolution
    • children's well-being
    • discovery learning
    • education
    • human primate


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