There have been many studies carried out into finding the effects of day care on children’s social development. Some have concluded that day care is detrimental children’s social development and, therefore, caregivers should be inclined to limit the amount of day care their child receives. Nevertheless, other studies final results have lead them to believe that day care can be highly beneficial to development, so opposes psychologists who believe day care is damaging.
One such study which concluded that day care, in replacement for care provided by the primary caregiver (usually the mother), is profoundly harmful to the development of children in a social capacity is that by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). This longitudinal study in America observed children from various family types and from a wide range of locations. To gain the data which is needed for translation, into results which prove one way or another effects of day care, was gathered by assessing both the children and their parents at regular intervals.
When the children reached five years old, the psychologists found that the more time children spend in day care, the more likely they were to be deemed as abnormally aggressive. Secondly, they found that if a child is in, legally, almost constant day care (30+ hours) they were three times more likely to display behavioural problem traits such as lying, arguing and being physically abusive. Yet, when evaluating this study it is clear to see that it would be a serious misjudgement to take the findings of it as completely reliable and trustworthy.
As with many studies, those involved have displayed their findings so that the reader is lead to believe that one factor causes the other, in this case day care causing heightened behavioural problems in children. These results are correlational; as one goes up the other rises accordingly but this still does not mean that one causes the other. It is an assumption/educated guess that day care causes more behavioural problems and therefore means that the findings are not strongly reliable.
Furthermore, the data obtained in the study has been documented in such a way that it exaggerates the effects of day care on aggression. Children who were not in full-time day care but definitely for a substantial time (between 10 and 30 hours), most of whom, did not show any signs of amplified levels of aggression. On the other hand, there were many aspects of this study which enhanced its reliability such as the fact that the participants were selected from relatively diverse locations and from different family types.
This will have made the findings more applicable to real life as they are not relative to one area or family type. Finally, the data gathered was not retrospective, meaning that the results used for their conclusion were gained first hand by those carrying out the study so there is no chance of exaggeration, mistake or lying unlike if the parent was asked about care arrangements years ago. As I have explained, there are two sides to this argument, a study which claims that it has found evidence to support the belief that day care can be beneficial for children is that by Clarke-Stewart et al.
By observing 150 children who were starting school for the first time, the team were able to differentiate between those who had previously attended day care and those who were primarily cared for at home, for most of the time by their primary caregiver. They were able to see this difference because those who had been in day care showed signs that they were more comfortable in social situations, had advanced negotiating skills and could get on well with other children more successfully than those who had not.