The power of play: the health benefits of goofing around | DW Documentary

Man has a natural play instinct. Dogs and cats – even spiders -also play. Researchers have found that playing increases the chances of survival in animals. The more delicate the game, the better it is for our motor and mental skills.

Free play makes you smart, healthy and social. Playing is a biological learning program; one of the most important evolutionary techniques of all. Scientists suspect that most animals play, although we so far haven’t decrypted the play instincts of lizards or spiders, for example. Researchers carrying out experiments on different animal species have discovered that games are more than just random letting off steam:
play seems essential to social behavior and mental health – in humans too. The film asks scientists from Europe, the United States and Canada how games work. Tests have shown that rats are prone to depressive moods when they cannot live out their play instinct. Researchers have also found that spider females lay more eggs when they follow the play instinct, so playing can even affect species survival. What happens to children when they spend less and less time outdoors playing with their peers? Developmental psychologists are concerned that parents who grew up in the 1990s are so familiar with electronic games they may not even remember the importance of unstructured, risky childhood play.

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