According to the August 2018 "The Power of Play" report, "developmentally appropriate play" with parents allows children to develop social-emotional, cognitive, language and self-regulation skills that enhance brain structure and function. Play time also reduces stress and strengthens the bonds between parents and children.
The study also states that play time has dropped by as much as 25 percent during the last 30 years, while screen time has increased significantly, which is why the AAP is now recommending that its pediatricians prescribe playtime to kids when they come in for routine check-ups.
"The benefits of play cannot really be overstated in terms of mitigating stress, improving academic skills and helping to build the safe, stable and nurturing relationships that buffer against toxic stress and build social-emotional resilience," Michael Yogman, lead author of the report, told WBZ-TV Monday.
Other child development experts agree that playtime allows children to develop lifelong skills.
"That's exactly what children need, especially in pre-school," Andrea Wilson, the manager at Rady Children's Hospital's Alexa's Playful Learning Academy for Young Children, told CBS46 Monday.
"That's the opportunity for them to turn-take, build empathy, use their communication skills, learn to be team players… Having a bag of books, crayons and manipulative toys is always a better option than putting a screen in front of them," she added.
The study doesn't specify an exact amount of free play kids need. Even as little as 15 minutes of free time resulted in a decrease in kids' stress levels compared to 15 minutes of being read to, suggesting that kids should be given the opportunity to explore play in their own ways.
Wondering why a prescription would be needed? The study implies that a written order on paper helps show people tangibly that what's being prescribed is as a medication.