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"Tag, You're It!": How Making Time for Play Inspires Deep Family Connections

October 22, 2019

Time to encourage your loved ones to get outside and have fun.

When it comes to spending quality time with the family, it's hard to beat gathering in the living room for a movie or favorite TV show. But these beautiful fall days are a great reminder that it's also important for families to take time outside of the home to enjoy good old-fashioned playtime. 

Whether they're enjoying a backyard swing set or a neighborhood playground, research shows that when families spend time together playing they're not only having fun, but also building strong connections that will last a lifetime. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, "developmentally appropriate play with parents and peers is a singular opportunity to promote the social-emotional, cognitive, language, and self-regulation skills that build executive function and a pro-social brain." 

In other words, play is essential for supporting healthy childhood development, and parents have a critical role in encouraging their children to get outside and have fun. Plus, play isn't only good for kids. Studies have shown that adults also benefit from playtime, which helps to reduce stress and contribute positively to an individual's overall health and wellbeing.

Sadly, despite the myriad benefits of play for both children and adults, research also shows that play is becoming less and less common. According to the non-profit organization KaBOOM!, which works to provide access to safe places to play for all children, "only one in four adolescents get the recommended 60 minutes of active play per day, with the number of younger kids only slightly higher." 

This is a stark contrast from their parents, who were much more active as kids. In fact, another study cited by KaBOOM! shows that "70 percent of mothers said they played outside every day when they were girls, while only 31 percent said their children did the same. And 56 percent said they played outside for three or more hours, while only 22 percent said this about their children."

Like KaBOOM!, Cox believes that bringing back play is a significant need in our communities and an important way to foster some of life's most important connections. That's why Cox decided to partner with KaBOOM! in 2015. Over the last four years, nearly 300 Cox employees have worked together to build four playgrounds in the Atlanta metropolitan area. Altogether, these playgrounds, which were each designed in partnership with children from the community, serve more than 2,600 kids each year. 

When children and their caregivers have a safe, fun place to play, the results speak for themselves: healthier, happier families that are more resilient and collaborative. Even the most skeptical parents and children will relent once they're swinging through the air or climbing on the monkey bars. The act of playing is contagious, and once you start moving, it's hard not to see the smiles spread.

The playground is even a place for grandma and grandpa and other senior loved ones to get involved because there's no better way to bridge generational divides than through play. In fact, it wouldn't be a surprise to learn that the games our oldest generations played are the same ones being enjoyed on playgrounds across America today. After all, tag never goes out of style.

Then, once the family is all worn out from a day of fun in the sun, they can head home and enjoy a different kind of generational bonding by sharing a beloved classic movie or TV show. Because just like tag, "I Love Lucy" never goes out of style.

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