A rapid review of the impact of quarantine and restricted environments on children's play and the role of play in children's health

Kelsey M. Graber, Elizabeth M. Byrne, Emily J. Goodacre, Natalie Kirby, Krishna Kulkarni, Christine O'Farrelly, Paul G. Ramchandani

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Amidst the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, there is uncertainty regarding potential lasting impacts on children's health and educational outcomes. Play, a fundamental part of childhood, may be integral to children's health during crises. We undertook a rapid review of the impact of quarantine, isolation and other restrictive environments on play and whether play mitigates adverse effects of such restrictions. Fifteen peer-reviewed studies were identified, spanning hospitals, juvenile and immigration detention and refugee camps. We found evidence of changes in children's access to play in crises and quarantine. These studies indicated how play might support children enduring isolation but lacked robust investigations of play as an intervention in mitigating impacts of restriction. Studies pertaining to children in isolation due to infectious disease outbreaks were notably absent. It is important that the potential effects of changes to such a crucial aspect of childhood are better understood to support children in this and future crises.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-153
Number of pages11
JournalChild: Care, Health and Development
Issue number2
Early online date25 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • children
  • disease outbreak
  • isolation
  • mental health
  • play
  • restriction

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