Kids should be allowed to play war games with fake guns and bring toy weapons to school because it helps their social and academic ­development, says Queensland researcher Jennifer Hart.

University of the Sunshine Coast associate lecturer in early childhood education Jennifer Hart said parents should not be scared their children will grow up to be “serial ­killers” if they engage in rough play.

Dr Hart said banning rough play and play fighting was unnecessary. “Research demonstrates playful aggression within early childhood programs is beneficial, yet it is typically discouraged by parents and teachers because it is interpreted to be inappropriate or dangerous,” she said.

She said the activities help children develop an understanding of right and wrong, trust, empathy, restraint, co-operation, conflict resolution and co-ordination, reports Brisbane Times.

Dr Hart said she was “all for” schools letting kids play with toy weapons, such as nerf guns.

“Many parents grew up playing cowboys and Indians and Star Wars … and to me it’s ironic because our children are doing the same, (we think) they’re going to grow up to be serial killers when we’re perfectly normal and contribute to society and hold normal jobs.”

Educational psychologist Jennifer StGeorge, a senior lecturer in family studies at Australia’s University of Newcastle, recently said play fighting actually helps kids develop.

“Rough-and-tumble play definitely doesn’t make kids more aggressive,” StGeorge said in an interview with kinstantly “And it has lots of social and emotional benefits.”

StGeorge says. “Likely men’s preference to play physically in the rough-and-tumble competitive way is linked to evolution.”

“Some studies show kids are calmer and more ready for social play after a good rough-and-tumble,” she adds. Read our recent story here.

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  • Totally agree ????


  • I don’t see a problem with kids rough playing or playing with weapons. How else are they going to learn anything and further develop. A kid playing with a gun is not going to turn out to be a serial killer just for playing with plastic guns


  • How is fake weapons teaching right from wrong??
    Playing with water psitols – spraying humans and pets with water…is not looked on the same as playing with “ordinary” toy guns. Some of the boys hated cowboys and indians. There was plenty of other toys they loved to play with – tricycles, scooters, cars and plenty of other games.


  • No – it get’s children outside and teaches real from fake. Far better than playing games on their computers where someone gets ‘hurt’ but get’s up again. In real life if you get hurt, you lie on the ground and cry and the other friends playing around you help you and realise that it is real.


  • We watched cowboy and Indian movies….there were no graphic scenes like there are in movies today.
    My brothers had water pistols, cap guns, plastic and wooden swords thanks to Zorro.
    I loved the smell of the caps and sometimes we would get a roll of them and set them off by hitting them with stones.

    None of my brothers have grown up to be criminals and none of them have murdered anyone either. One owns a rifle and its registered with the police and he has had them turn up on the doorstep to do a random check that his gun is locked away securely and that the bullets are locked in another location. He goes hunting with permits .


  • Play fighting I can accept, but I’m not keen on toy weapons.


  • We all did this growing up,l can’t see the problem!


  • Nothing wrong with rough play. I don’t think toy guns are necessary though


  • I do agree that kids need to run, climb, swing, play sports etc and expend energy, but I don’t agree that play fighting is healthy.


  • I can’t believe this is even a topic requiring discussion. If rough play is what is getting your child outside happy healthy and active then I am all for it. My son has numerous guns and swords. My one rule is that they are never ever to be aimed at people’s upper bodies. He did it once and I threw the gun in the bin.


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