Playtime is under threat: The LEGO Group’s new Play is Your Superpower campaign encourages families to reprioritise play.
The LEGO Group have announced its new Play is Your Superpower campaign, supported at M&C Saatchi FABRIC and aimed at addressing a global lack in play amongst children. Together with a global Play Squad of supporters, the LEGO Group is inspiring families to reprioritise playtime, emphasising its critical importance in childhood development and the role it has in bringing fun to families around the world.
The campaign draws its insights from a recent global study finding that, on average, children are spending just 2% of their week (equivalent to 7 hours) playing, with one in three (32%) spending less than three hours each week enjoying play. Comparatively, the average adult spends 26 hours a week scrolling on their smartphone, an average of more than 3.5 hours per day. This current play deficit is a cause for concern for experts given the crucial role of play in shaping a child's cognitive abilities, overall wellbeing and most importantly, in them having fun.
The study also highlighted that 70% of parents are choosing to prioritise achievement-based activities for their child over free play because they believe that it will lead them to greater success in the future. The activities that adults are most often choosing over play include sports clubs, learning a language and tutoring.
Dr Paul Ramchandani, Professor of Play at the University of Cambridge says, “There’s huge value in children taking part in all activities that provide them with a rounded education and skill set, but play offers children something really special. Through play, children develop essential skills that enhance every other area of their development, learning and growth. If your child has adequate time to play, they can develop skills including creativity, confidence, problem-solving and communication that will help them reach their full potential in later life.”
When asked, 57% of parents said the time their child spends on achievement-based activities has increased over the last three years, often at the expense of playtime. Alero Akuya, VP of Brand Development at the LEGO Group, said, “If we don’t recognise that factoring in time for a child to play each day is imperative to their wellbeing and future success, we’re going to have a generation of young adults missing vital skills. With this campaign we aim to re-frame the way adults see play and its many benefits, and encourage them to reprioritise it in their family lives. It should be seen as just as important as reading children a bedtime story or helping them eat well to boost their health.”
To launch the campaign, the LEGO Group has enlisted the help of a group of leading cultural figures who each attribute the skills developed through childhood play to helping make their dreams come true. The Play Squad, including Tan France, Naomi Watanabe, Bindi Irwin and Stephanie Beatriz, will share the unique superpowers that play has given them and why they believe it should be a priority for every child.
Fashion designer and entrepreneur Tan France said, “As a young boy growing up in Doncaster, UK, the idea of being where I am today felt far removed. Little did I know that the skills I was learning through play in my bedroom would directly impact my future life. Play helped me imagine infinite possibilities, allowing me to see things differently and discover my place in the world. A huge part of my career focuses on instilling that sense of endless imagination in adults; sometimes I wish I could rewind the clock and encourage people to step into their own adventures through play.”
For passionate conservationist Bindi Irwin, childhood play taught her the power of connecting to others and the world around her, “As a child I would connect to my love for animals and our natural world through play. I would create my own imaginary worlds where I would run wild with every kind of animal. I wanted to connect with every species and learn more about them. My Dad built me a tree house and it was my favourite place in the world to play. It was where I could be a wild child! Surrounded by wildlife, next to the creek, it was where I felt most connected to nature and to my Dad. That connection has meant everything to me and I’ve carried it through to my adult years. My world now revolves around wildlife conservation, encouraging others to care for our Earth and understand that we are all connected.”
For comedian, actor and social media star Naomi Watanabe, the power of self-expression that childhood play instilled in her has impacted every aspect of her life. Naomi said, “Childhood play always gave me an outlet to express myself in any way I wanted and, as an adult, I am grateful to have kept this quality. It has shaped who I am as a comedian, a performer, and a human being. I honor this by keeping an element of playfulness in everything I do, from the way I dress, to the clothes I create, to my impersonations and my love for entertaining other people. Everything has a bit of mischievousness!”
Actor and Producer Stephanie Beatriz commented: “Creativity takes you anywhere you want to go. That, in my eyes, is a true superpower. Growing up, creativity could take me to new worlds; I'd create whole cities of buildings that existed on imaginary planets, animals that didn't exist until I created them, cars that were boats and airplanes too. I channel that creativity today in the characters I play, it enables me to dream up the worlds they live in, the way they talk, move and interact with others. I create their memories, their dreams, their deepest needs and biggest fears. All of these creative choices are based on play- I try things, and sometimes they work! As an actor, my ability to create has made me flexible and malleable. The range of characters I play reflects how I make creative choices through play in the real world, and I can trace that back to being able to make creative choices through play when I was a kid.”
To accompany the campaign, the LEGO Group has today released a five-minute Play Is Your Superpowerfilm, starring Hollywood actor Jane Lynch as a work-obsessed CEO who becomes enlightened to the merits of play by seeing the impact it makes on her employees through the eyes of children. Superstar actress Sun Li takes on the role of the CEO in an adaption for families in China. The film is playable and packed with easter eggs; viewers can play along and find their own playful superpower at LEGO.com.
It’s not only children that benefit from play. Play makes the whole family happier, builds stronger family bonds and improves wellbeing according to 95% of parents. The LEGO Group knows that family schedules are packed with everyday responsibilities like working long hours (31%) and chores (28%) proving the biggest barriers to family play according to parents. To help parents reprioritise play, the LEGO Group and its Play Squad will be supporting parents with inspiration on how to inject moments of playfulness into even the busiest of schedules on World Play Day on 12th October 2023.
Find out more about the campaign and watch the Play is Your Superpower film here: