We are pleased to make a call for submissions for this issue of the Children’s Research Digest on the theme of “Children and Young People at Play”.  Play is one of the most important aspects of children and young people’s lives. Access to active, outdoor, or free play is essential for optimal development of children’s physical, mental, social and emotional health and wellbeing. However, a decline in opportunities to play, especially outdoors, in some communities  in recent times is a major concern. With the modern world becoming a more risk adverse society, children’s opportunities to engage in self-directed free play, whether indoors or outdoors, are becoming increasing limited. Researchers highlight that play deprivation contributes to a reduced sense of personal control, reduced ability to control emotions, increased social isolation and reduced happiness. 

Meanwhile there is a tendency to view  those children and young people who do still play or hang out outdoors as vulnerable or suspicious. Yet, in consultations children and young people themselves stress the importance of playing or hanging out for their well- being, especially in spaces within easy walking distance of their homes.

Research shows that children who play and engage in natural and outdoor environments have more resilience, self-regulation, develop skills for coping and conflict resolution, motor skill development, independence and problem solving skills. Children and young people who freely play outdoors, expose themselves to more adventurous ‘risky’ play and are able to display clear strategies for mitigating harm, negotiating decision making and display increased self-esteem.  Play is the primary means by which children learn about themselves and explore the world around them. By increasing children and young people’s opportunities to play, and incorporating play and playful environments in children’s spaces and landscapes, this can help maintain learning as well as their physical, mental, social, emotional development and wellbeing.

This issue of the Digest focuses on the importance of play for children and young people’s optimal  development. We invite papers on any kind of play, and in particular outdoor and/or risky play that include literature reviews on outdoor play, recent evaluated or evidence informed outdoor play initiatives, as well as research on the benefits and challenges of hanging out, risky and/or outdoor play. Outdoor play refers to play in settings such as playgrounds, parks, rural areas, urban neighbourhoods, schools, preschools, childcare provision, streets and gardens etc. We are particularly interested in research on children and young peole’s views on how, what and where they play or hang out, and issues of concerns they raise.

We also encourage submissions, which involve or highlight collaborations across play sectors (research, design, play provision, and policy).  Submissions may address, but are not confined to the following areas:

  • Benefits of play
  • Opportunities for outdoor play in structured care, childcare and education settings
  • Outdoor play in majority world countries
  • Play in urban spaces
  • Nature play
  • Loose parts play
  • Sensory play
  • Messy play
  • Digital games/social media and outdoor play/hanging out
  • Children’s right to play
  • Outdoor play for children living in challenging situations such as direct provision or emergency accomodation
  • Innovative methods to research outdoor play and/or hanging out
  • Inclusive play and play environments
  • Risky and challenging play, adventure play
  • Play therapy
  • Young people’s play
  • Good practice in design and planning of play provision and for play in public spaces
  • Participatory projects
  • Street play
  • Outdoor play in rural areas
  • Mapping play and hang out spaces
  • Successful social / policy change initiatives
  • Traffic calming measures and other interventions

Authors must submit their paper electronically for consideration along with the attached submission form to crn@effectiveservices.org. The deadline for submission is October 20th 2017. For further information on any aspect of the submission process, please send an e-mail to the above address.