Playing is one of the most important aspects of children’s lives. Children value time, freedom and quality places to play. When asked about what matters to them, children consistently mention playing and meeting up with their friends.
In this section you will find information about:
In General Comment no. 17, published in 2013, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child defines play as:
‘a behaviour, activity or process initiated, controlled and structured by children. Play takes place whenever and wherever opportunities arise.’
General Comment no. 17 also notes the key characteristics of play:
This aligns with and builds on the Welsh Government’s definition of play (published in its 2002 Play Policy) as:
‘encompassing children’s behaviour which is freely chosen, personally directed and intrinsically motivated. It is performed for no external goal or reward and is a fundamental and integral part of healthy development – not only for individual children, but also for the society in which they live’.
Opportunities for children to play can be supported or restricted in three main ways:
Playing is central to children’s physical, mental, social and emotional health and wellbeing. Studies show that playing helps children feel part of their neighbourhoods and wider communities. Playing also supports:
Every child has the right to play whatever their culture, impairment, gender, language, background, behaviour or need
Children seek risk and uncertainty in their play – they are drawn to challenge, novelty, and the unexpected
Supporting children and teenagers to play outside and meet up with friends is crucial for their health and happiness
All good spaces for playing offer a rich play environment with lots of play value for every child
Inclusive play means giving all children and teenagers equal access to good quality local play provision
As adults, it is our responsibility to make sure children have the time, space and freedom to play. There is a whole workforce that helps make this happen.
Taking a balanced approach to children and teenagers’ play and use of digital technology
Play Wales’ Playful Childhoods campaign aims to help parents, carers and community groups provide more opportunities for children to play at home and in their neighbourhoods.