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Sample Undergraduate Education Literature Review

Published by at December 13th, 2022 , Revised On February 2, 2024

The Role of Risky Indoor and Outdoor Play in Development of Children at Early Stages


The following literature review assesses the role of risky indoor and outdoor play in children’s development at early stages. This topic has been chosen because today, parents are more concerned about their children’s activities as criminal activities have increased, resulting in a decrease in outdoor activities.

However, both indoor and outdoor activities are considered important for children in their development process. This assignment is prepared to assess what researchers have found about the role of indoor and outdoor play in children’s development at early stages.

Literature has been divided into two themes; the first gives detailed opinions of researchers regarding indoor and outdoor activities, while another is associated with how risky plays support children’s development. Based on findings from the literature, a conclusion is also made a part of this assignment.

Risky indoor and outdoor plays

Clements (2004, p.71) stated that there is no doubt that some children have higher and some have a lower appetite for risks. However, the propensity for risky plays is something universal in children. It has been observed that preschool children getting engaged in outdoor plays indicate deliberate risk exposure.

In the early stages, a child is only concerned about learning new things, forcing them to take risks like jumping from a height or throwing things, or running without thinking of any limits. These things are universal at an early age, and parents are left with the only option to keep children inside the house or even in a room.

However, Milteer and Mulligan (2012, p.e208) stated that indoor and outdoor plays are equally important for children because indoor activities develop their brains, and outdoor make them physically stronger.

Outdoor plays also mean more mess and more fun; therefore, children at early stages are more inclined towards outdoor plays. They want to see the world rather than just their home and school.

According to Moore (2017), when a child is outside, he can do more things than stay at home as he has free space to run, jump, kick, and throw. It makes him/her a lot more active and physically strong rather than sitting inside and playing monopoly or ludo.

However, outdoor games do not increase their brain development, so indoor activities like puzzles are equally important, making them think, and table tennis makes them quick and responsive. Kellert (2002) documented that parents concerned about children’s safety are also justified because outdoor games are much riskier than indoor games.

There is a risk of injuries as well as getting lost. Children at early stages need supervision while playing outside because nobody knows what may go wrong. Open space is more fun, yet riskier, than closed spaces like home and school.

Role of risky plays in children’s development

A finding worth noting is associated with Timmons and Pfeiffer (2007, p.S125), who stated that parental fear regarding children’s safety is the most significant impact on children’s access to play independently. Independent play is highly important to make a child more active, more social, strong, and independent.

On the other hand, children who do not step outside may not be getting bored at home because of indoor activities, but they miss something very beneficial. Samuelsson and Carlsson (2008, p.625) stated that there is a significant difference in the development of children who play both indoor and outdoor games and children who stay at home.

In the words of Frost and Reifel (2001), keeping children safe includes letting them take risks as there is evidence that kids learn risk management for themselves and their family and friends due to risky play exercises. Children come to know about their capabilities and strength to face any harmful situation or place.

Maynard and Waters (2007, p.258) stated that engagement of children in risky plays has a major role in reducing the fear of stimuli through naturally, repeatedly, and progressively exposing themselves to the stimuli. He argued that if children are not provided sufficient opportunities to play outside, they will fail to cope themselves in fear-inducing situations.

On the other hand, it is also found by Wood and Attfield (2005) that these are not only outdoor activities that help in children’s development, but indoor activities are also helpful but different. Indoor activities help make them quick, respondent and attentive even some indoor activities help increase IQ levels, such as puzzles and crosswords.

According to Waite (2017), children involved in these activities have an excellent vocabulary and learn new spellings in a fun environment. They learn many things even before going to school and then becoming bright and sharp students. These games are not at all risky; however, outdoor plays are highly risky, due to which most of the children are only allowed to play within the house.

However, the importance of outdoor activities cannot be ignored due to their great health benefits. The literature identified that parents are concerned about risky outdoor activities, but associated benefits are worth more than the risk.

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Children’s need for playing is a globally recognized childhood right, and there are numerous health and developmental benefits associated with indoor and outdoor play. Societal trends have restricted this basic right of children to make them stay safe, compromising their development. It is important to think about their safety.

However, it is even more important to think about their health and development. It has been found in the literature that indoor activities help children in their mental health while outdoor games play a major role in physical health. The absence of these activities results in lower IQ, health issues, and more dependence.

Based on the literature findings, it is suggested that parents should make their children involved in both indoor and outdoor activities and try to minimize associated risks. However, if the risk cannot be minimized, they should keep an eye on children and never make their children stay at home.


Clements, R., 2004. An investigation of the status of outdoor play. Contemporary issues in early childhood, 5(1), pp.68-80.

Frost, J.L., Wortham, S.C. and Reifel, R.S., 2001. Play and child development. Merrill, Prentice-Hall.

Kellert, S.R., 2002. Experiencing nature: Affective, cognitive, and evaluative development in children. Children and nature: Psychological, sociocultural, and evolutionary investigations, 117151.

Maynard, T. and Waters, J., 2007. Learning in the outdoor environment: a missed opportunity?. Early Years, 27(3), pp.255-265.

Milteer, R.M., Ginsburg, K.R. and Mulligan, D.A., 2012. The importance of play in promoting healthy child development and maintaining strong parent-child bond: Focus on children in poverty. Pediatrics, 129(1), pp.e204-e213.

Moore, R.C., 2017. Childhood’s domain: Play and place in child development. Routledge.

Samuelsson, I.P. and Carlsson, M.A., 2008. The playing learning child: Towards a pedagogy of early childhood. Scandinavian journal of educational research, 52(6), pp.623-641.

Timmons, B.W., Naylor, P.J. and Pfeiffer, K.A., 2007. Physical activity for preschool children—how much and how?. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 32(S2E), pp.S122-S134.

Waite, S. ed., 2017. Children learning outside the classroom: From birth to eleven. Sage. Wood, E. and Attfield, J., 2005. Play, learning and the early childhood curriculum. Sage.

Frequently Asked Questions

Supervise young children during outdoor play, create a safe environment with appropriate equipment and boundaries, educate them about risks, teach them safety rules, and encourage alternative activities.

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