The Importance of Child Play for Development

As technology continues to play an increasingly important role in our lives, it’s becoming more common for children to spend more time on tablets and other devices instead of engaging in traditional forms of play. While technology certainly has its benefits, there are also numerous benefits to child play that should not be overlooked. In this article, we will explore the benefits of child play vs playing on tablets in more detail, and explain why parents should prioritize traditional forms of play whenever possible. 

Benefits of Child Play

One of the most significant benefits of child play is that it promotes physical activity. Whether it’s running, jumping, climbing, or riding a bike, physical activity is essential for children’s physical and emotional well-being. Engaging in physical play helps children develop their gross motor skills, improve their cardiovascular health, and maintain a healthy weight. In addition, physical play can also help children develop their coordination and balance, which are essential skills for later in life. 

Encourages Imagination and Creativity

Child play also encourages imagination and creativity, which are important for cognitive development. When children engage in imaginative play, they are using their minds to create new worlds, scenarios, and characters. This type of play helps children develop their cognitive skills, including memory, problem-solving, and critical thinking. Furthermore, imaginative play allows children to express themselves freely and explore their creativity, which can boost their self-esteem and confidence. 

Builds Social Skills

Playing with others is an important aspect of child play, as it allows children to develop their social skills. When children engage in cooperative play, they learn important social skills like sharing, taking turns, and working together. These skills are essential for building strong relationships and developing empathy and compassion. Moreover, social play provides children with opportunities to learn from one another and develop their communication skills, which are essential for success in school and later in life. 

Develops Problem-Solving Skills

Child play often involves solving problems and overcoming obstacles. Whether it’s building a tower out of blocks or navigating an obstacle course, children are constantly using their problem-solving skills during play. These skills are valuable not just in childhood, but throughout their lives. When children are encouraged to engage in problem-solving play, they learn to approach challenges with a positive attitude, break down complex tasks into smaller steps, and think creatively to find solutions. 

Benefits of Playing on Tablets

Can be Educational

Playing on tablets can be educational, especially if the games or apps are designed to teach specific skills like math or reading. Some games can also help to develop hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. Educational apps can be a great supplement to traditional learning, as they can make learning fun and engaging for children. 

Provides a Break for Parents

Parenting is hard work, and sometimes parents need a break. Handing a child a tablet can be an easy way to keep them occupied for a little while, which can give parents some much-needed time to rest or complete other tasks. While this is a valid reason to allow children to play on tablets, it’s important to remember that technology should not replace traditional forms of play. 

Can Help with Communication

Some children with communication difficulties can benefit from using tablets or devices to help them communicate. There are many apps and programs designed specifically to help children with speech and language delays. For these children, using tablets can be an important tool for learning and socializing. 

Child Play vs Playing on Tablets: Which is Better?

While there are certainly benefits to playing on tablets, child play is still the clear winner when it comes to promoting physical, social, and cognitive development. Engaging in physical play helps children develop their gross motor skills, maintain a healthy weight, and improve their cardiovascular health. Imaginative play encourages creativity, problem-solving, and cognitive development, while also boosting self-esteem and confidence. Social play helps children develop important social skills like sharing, taking turns, and communication, which are essential for building relationships and developing empathy and compassion. 


In contrast, playing on tablets can provide some educational benefits and can give parents a break, but it is not a substitute for traditional forms of play. Playing on tablets does not provide the same opportunities for physical activity or socialization that child play does. Furthermore, excessive use of tablets can have negative effects on children’s physical and emotional health, including obesity, poor sleep habits, and increased risk of depression and anxiety. 

Tips for Encouraging Child Play

Here are some tips for encouraging child play and minimizing the amount of time children spend on tablets or other devices: 

  1. Provide a variety of toys and materials that encourage imaginative play, such as blocks, dress-up clothes, and art supplies. 
  2. Schedule regular outdoor playtime and encourage physical activity like riding bikes, playing catch, or climbing on a jungle gym. 
  3. Set limits on screen time and establish clear rules around device use. 
  4. Encourage social play by organizing play dates or joining community groups like sports teams or art classes. 
  5. Model healthy screen habits by limiting your own screen time and engaging in play with your child. 


While technology certainly has its benefits, it should not be a substitute for traditional forms of play. Child play provides numerous physical, social, and cognitive benefits that are essential for children’s development. While playing on tablets can have some educational benefits and can provide a break for parents, it should be limited and balanced with other forms of play. Parents can encourage child play by providing a variety of toys and materials, scheduling outdoor playtime, setting limits on screen time, encouraging social play, and modeling healthy screen habits. By prioritizing child play, parents can help their children develop into healthy, happy, and well-rounded individuals. 

About The Author

Dr. Hannah is a highly-skilled and compassionate physician who completed her medical degree at Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila in 2014. She passed the Physician Licensure Exam in 2015, and has since gained experience working in various hospitals and clinics throughout Metro Manila. For three years, she served as a physician on duty at a dialysis institute, caring for patients with chronic lifestyle diseases. 


As a primary care physician, Dr. Hannah is dedicated to providing patient-centered care that takes into account the whole person, not just their illness. She believes in empowering her patients to take an active role in their healthcare, and believes that this type of doctor-patient relationship is key to achieving optimal health. 

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