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Children's pastimes and play in sixteen nations


Children’s activities outside of school are similar across nations

Singer and colleagues surveyed 2400 mothers of 1- to 12-year-old children in sixteen nations about their attitudes and beliefs regarding their children’s play and well-being, as well their children’s activities outside of school. Participating mothers were from a diversity of socioeconomic backgrounds, urban to rural areas, and developed to developing countries. Despite this diversity, Singer and colleagues found many similarities in mothers’ responses. In their article, the researchers present many findings. A few of their key overall findings include: 1) the most common activity that children were reported to engage in outside of school was watching television, with 72% of mothers reporting that their child participated in this activity; 2) 58% of mothers reported that their child played outdoors; 3) 54% of mothers reported that playing outside was the activity their children enjoyed most; 4) 73% of mothers reported that their child would rather play outside than inside; 5) 47% of mothers were concerned that their children do not spend enough time playing outside; and 6) 72% of mothers agreed that children are growing up too quickly today. The researchers also analyzed survey data in terms of country development status, child gender, child age, and family characteristics, among other factors. For example, Singer and colleagues found that significantly more boys than girls played outside and participated in organized sports, and children with more siblings were reported to play outside more than children with fewer siblings. In addition, researchers found that mothers from rural areas were significantly more likely to report that their children participated in rough and tumble play or explored nature as compared to mothers from city and suburban areas.


Singer, D. G., Singer, J. L., D'Agostino, H., DeLong, R., (2009). Children's pastimes and play in sixteen nations. American Journal of Play, 1(3), 283-312.

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