Playing with Children of the Same Age

Children learn and develop social skills and behaviors through interactions with other children their own age. Parents of 1- to 5-year-olds were asked to report on how many days in the previous week their child played with other children their own age. Overall, 30.0 percent of young children played with others of the same age every day in the previous week, 61.4 percent did so on 1–6 days, and 8.6 percent had not played with others of the same age on any day in the previous week. Children in urban and small rural areas were slightly more likely to play with their peers every day than those in large rural areas, while children in both small and large rural areas were more likely than those in urban areas to have not played with others.

In all locations, children aged 3–5 years were more likely than younger children to play with their peers every day; approximately one-third did so, compared to less than one-quarter of children aged 1–2 years. Among 3- to 5-year-olds, the proportion playing with their peers every day differed for children in rural areas: 37.7 percent of children in small rural areas did so, compared to 30.3 percent of those in large rural areas.

Within each racial and ethnic group, the percentage of children who played with their peers every day did not vary significantly by location, except that Hispanic children in urban and small rural areas were more likely to do so than those in large rural areas (31.3 and 36.3 compared to 18.4 percent, respectively). Within large rural areas, non-Hispanic Black and non-Hispanic children of multiple or other races (39.2 and 31.8 percent, respectively) were more likely than Hispanic children (18.4 percent) to play every day with others their own age.

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