The more children play outside away from TV and computers, the more they laugh, a study by BBC child psychologist Dr Tessa Livingstone has found.
In fact, it would "not be a bad thing at all" if the recession forced parents to cut back on some of the structured activities, such as extra classes their children are involved in, as this would allow them more time to play, said Dr Livingstone, who will be speaking at a conference in Galway this weekend.
She said research had shown that children were probably less safe in terms of paedophilia and grooming in the online world than they were out on the street.
Executive producer of the BBC television series Child of Our Time, Dr Livingstone said it was important to get the balance right between unstructured play and the high level of structured activity - such as music, drama and language classes - that take up so much of the modern child's time.
As part of this year's Child of Our Time series, Dr Livingstone's team studied play, and found that the more children played, the more they laughed, especially when outside. They found the children who played most laughed up to 20 times as much as the children who played less.
Dr Livingstone will be the keynote speaker at the sixth annual childcare conference in Galway this weekend. Hosted by Galway City and County Childcare Committee, the theme of this year's event is Value the Moment…