Playing, then and now – differences in time and elements of play from parents’ perspective


  • Ranko Rajović University of Primorska, Faculty of Education
  • Vanja Ković Faculty of Philosophy, Department of Psychology, University of Belgrade
  • Dragana Berić Faculty of Sport and Physical Education, University of Niš



motor skills, play, cognitive development, childhood, leisure time


The question how the general trend toward physical inactivity and sedentary behavior affects children’s capabilities and cognitive skills is becoming increasingly important. The aim of this study was to compare children’s play time with parents’ play time at their child’s age, as well as the elements of play. A survey was conducted among parents of children aged 6 to 8 years. The results of the survey, which was based on a sample of 37 parents, showed that a child nowadays spends more time playing at home (110 minutes/day on average compared to the 96 minutes/day their parents played as children) and, conversely, with a statistically significant difference, only half the time their parents did playing outside (96 minutes/day on average compared to the 157 minutes/day on average that their parents spent at the same age). We also found a statistically significant difference in screen time in children today (93 minutes/day on average), which is three times as much as it used to be in their parents at that age. Differences were also evident in activities involving elements of rotation, balance, and dynamic accommodation, with most children now spending 0-15 minutes/day compared to parents who used to spend an hour or more on similar activities. For activities based on fine motor skills, half of the children nowadays spend 15-30 minutes/day, whereas half of the parents used to spend an hour or more. The contemporary lifestyle that is highly sedentary can affect many aspects of children’s play. The paper discusses differences of play in the time dimension and possible consequences of such behavior for child development.


Brookman, A., McDonald, S., McDonald, D., & Bishop, D. V. M. (2013). Fine motor deficits in reading disability and language impairment: Same or different? PeerJ, 1(e217).

Buckley, J., Cohen, J. D., Kramer, A. F., McAuley, E., & Mullen, S. P. (2014). Cognitive control in the self-regulation of physical activity and sedentary behavior. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 8, 747.

Cameron, C., Brock, L., Murrah, W., Bell, L., Worzalla, S., Grissmer, D., & Morrison, F. (2012). Fine motor skills and executive function both contribute to kindergarten achievement. Child Development, 83(4), 1229–1244.

Chaddock, L., Erickson, K., Prakash, R. S., VanPatter, M., Voss, M. W., Pontifex, M. B, ... Kramer, A. F. (2010). Basal ganglia volume is associated with aerobic fitness in preadolescent children. Developmental Neuroscience. 32(3), 249-256.

Christakis, D. A. (2009). The effects of infant media usage: what do we know and what should we learn? Acta Paediatrica, 98(1), 8-16.

Cole, M. W., Yarkoni, T., Repovš, G., Anticevic, A., & Braver, T. S. (2012). Global connectivity of prefrontal cortex predicts cognitive control and intelligence. Journal of Neuroscience, 32(26), 8988-8999.

Denham, J., Marques, F. Z., O’Brien, B. J., & Charchar, F. J. (2014). Exercise: putting action into our epigenome. Sports Medicine, 44(2), 189-209.

Elliot, L. (1999). What‘s going on there? How the brain and mind develop in the first five years of life. New York: A Bantam Book.

Erickson, K., Hillman, C., & Kramer, A. (2015). Physical activity, brain, and cognition. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 4, 27–32.

Gomez-Pinilla, F., & Hillman, C. (2013). The influence of exercise on cognitive abilities. Comprehensive Physiology, 3(1), 403-428.

Grissmer, D., Grimm, K. J., Aiyer, S. M., Murrah, W. M., & Steele, J. S. (2010). Fine motor skills and early comprehension of the world: Two new school readiness indicators, Developmental Psychology, 46(5), 1008-1017.

Henderson, M., Gray-Donald, K., Mathieu, M. E., Barnett, T. A., Hanley, J. A., O’Loughlin, J., ... Lambert, M. (2012). How are physical activity, fitness, and sedentary behavior associated with insulin sensitivity in children? Diabetes care, 35(6), 1272-1278.

Horska, A., Kaufmann, W. E., Brant, L. J., Naidu, S., Harris, J. C., & Barker, P. B. (2002). In vivo quantitative proton MRSI study of brain development from childhood to adolescence. Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging, 15(2), 137–143.

Lillard, A. S., Drell, M. B., Richey, E. M., Boguszewski, K., & Smith, E. D. (2015). Further examination of the immediate impact of television on children’s executive function. Developmental psychology, 51(6), 792-805.

Martinez-Gomez, D., Tucker, J., Heelan, K. A., Welk, G. J., & Eisenmann, J. C. (2009). Associations between sedentary behavior and blood pressure in young children. Archives of pediatrics & adolescent medicine, 163(8), 724-730.

Milošević, Z., & Obradović, B. (2008). Posturalni status dece novosadskih predškolskih ustanova uzrasta 7 godina [Postural status of 7 years old children from Novi Sad pre-school institutions]. Journal of the Anthropological Society of Serbia, Novi Sad, 43, 301-309.

Piaget, J. (1953). The origin of intelligence in the child. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Protudjer, J., Kozyrskyj, A. L., McGavock, J. M., Ramsey, C. D., & Becker, A. B. (2012). High screen time is associated with asthma in overweight Manitoba youth. Journal of Asthma, 49(9), 935-941.

Rajović, R. (2010). NTC sistem učenja: metodički priručnik za vaspitače [NTC learning system: methodical manual for teachers]. Vršac: College of Professional Studies in Education of Teachers Mihajlo Palov.

Rajović, R., Rajović, I., Kovačić, D., & Dajčman, N. (2016). Descending trend of motor and cognitive abilities of school children. In New challenges in education: 1. International Conference, Čatež, Slovenia, Book of proceedings (pp.56–61). Novi Sad: Smart Production.

Sandercock, G. R., & Ogunleye, A. A. (2013). Independence of physical activity and screen time as predictors of cardiorespiratory fitness in youth. Pediatric research, 73(5), 692-697.

Sibley, B. A., & Etnier, J. L. (2003). The relationship between physical activity and cognition in children: a meta-analysis. Pediatric Exercise Science, 15(3), 243-256.

Tau, G. Z., & Peterson, B. S. (2010). Normal development of brain circuits. Neuropsychopharmacology, 35(1), 147–168.

Ullrich-French, S. C., Power, T. G., Daratha, K. B., Bindler, R. C., & Steele, M. M. (2010). Examination of adolescents’ screen time and physical fitness as independent correlates of weight status and blood pressure. Journal of Sports Sciences, 28(11), 1189-1196.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (2013). America’s children and the environment, third edition.

Videmšek, M., Klopčič, P., Štihec, J., & Karpljuk, D. (2006). The analysis of the arch of the foot in three-year-old children – a case of Ljubljana. Kinesiology 38(1), 78-85. Retrieved from




How to Cite

Rajović, R., Ković, V., & Berić, D. (2021). Playing, then and now – differences in time and elements of play from parents’ perspective. Annales Kinesiologiae, 11(2), 99–119.