Effects of daycare on social development

outline and evaluate research in to the effects of social development on daycare

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  • Created on: 10-01-10 09:53
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Outline & evaluate research into the effects of daycare on social development, (e.g.
aggression, peer relations)
Daycare provision comes in a variety of guises including child minders & nurseries. Attendance provides
children with opportunities to develop valuable social skills such as sharing & communicating with
non-family members. Bowlby's maternal deprivation hypothesis was used by the World Health
Organisation to predict that daycare could permanently damage children's development. However,
research that illustrates the positive effects of daycare contradicts this proposition.
There is evidence to suggest that daycare benefits children in terms of increased sociability, more
advanced peer relations & more co-operative play compared to non-daycare attenders. Shea's (1981)
study of playground behavior found that the sociability (as measured by aggression & frequency of peer
interactions) of 3 and 4 year olds increased over their first 10 weeks at nursery school. This is supported
by Andersson (1992) who suggests that high quality daycare can make a positive contribution to later
social development. This does raise the issue of the duration of the positive effects since benefits may
be short term rather than long term.
However, contradictory research findings challenge the reliability and validity of concluding daycare is
beneficial for children's social development. Belsky (2006) asserts that while children who experience
daycare may show cognitive advancements, they are often more aggressive with their peers & less
obedient with authority figures when older. This view is supported by Maccoby & Lewis (2003) who
suggest that the greater the time spent in daycare before 4 ½ years, the greater the behavioral
problems in school, decreased social skills & increased teacher conflict.
Such contradictory findings make it difficult to draw firm conclusions regarding the potential benefits (or
risks) of attending daycare & necessitates due consideration. Explanation lies in the fact that research
varies in terms of its focus, including issues with the types, quality & quantity of the daycare
experienced. Individual differences impact enormously on findings such as the age of the child, mother
sensitivity & level of parental income & education. Daycare may benefit the economically & socially
disadvantaged more since it can compensate for unstimulating and impoverished home environments.
Daycare can provide stability, routine & opportunities that would otherwise not have been possible.
Methodological issues may produce inconsistent findings. Clarke-Stewart admits the strange situation
lacks validity when measuring the attachments of daycare children since they may be incorrectly labeled
`insecure' since they are used to temporary separation. Much of the research is correlational, therefore
causality cannot be inferred and different studies utilize various data collection methods including the
use of interviews, ratings scales & observations. Consequently, the effects of daycare are not clear cut;
there are multiple possible outcomes as a consequence of individual & social differences. Research
suggests improving the consistency & quality of daycare in terms of the emotional sensitivity of carers is
likely to benefit social development, however caution must be exercised with regard to the number of
hours spent in daycare since those who experience 20+ hours a week have been found to suffer in
terms of emotional & social development.


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