With a lack of safe places to roam, poor kids in cities are missing out on unstructured play, which is necessary for proper development.
Children in poor urban neighborhoods need more chances for old-fashioned playtime in their daily lives, says a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). A number of experts have raised concerns that children these days have little time for unstructured play -- which, they say, is important for kids' physical and mental development.
The new report follows another from the AAP a few years ago, which argued that U.S. suburban children are "overscheduled" with formal classes and lessons, leaving them little time for simple play.
"That's not the case for poor children," said Dr. Regina M. Milteer, lead author of the new study. "But they're still not getting free, unstructured playtime," she told Reuters Health in an interview.
For poor children, in cities in particular, the problems are a lack of safe places to play, parents who are busy trying to pay for housing and other basics and schools that are cutting out recess and physical education to make more time for academics.
Schools nationwide have been reducing time for recess and phys ed. But those in poor areas, in particular, are feeling pressure to narrow disparities in student performance. "In close to one-third of schools with the highest poverty rates, recess has been completely eliminated," Milteer said.