We’ve known for a while that children need high levels of social interaction during their critical phase of development.
- However, new evidence from an experiment published in Science, shows that mice who experience two weeks of low social interaction after weaning, before being introduced to larger social groups, have significantly worse neurological development in the long term than those with social interaction from birth. What is significant is that it appears the damage caused by low social interaction is, to some extent, irreversible.
- The research highlights that interaction and social cohesion for children could be important in minimising cognitive and behavioural deficits in adults.
Ensuring that communities are cohesive and have shared spaces such as parks for play and social interaction could be important for the long term mental wellbeing of the next generation. As communities become less cohesive, single parent families increase, and young families move further from their support networks, shared public space may become crucial for creating opportunities for interaction and neurological development. The research further highlights additional ecosystem service values associated with the provision of safe shared spaces for social interaction.