Imaginary friends help kids hone speech skills

June 3rd, 2009 - 2:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, June 3 (IANS) Imaginary friends help kids hone their conversational and communicative skills, says a new study.
La Trobe University psychologist Evan Kidd and colleague Anna Roby explored the hidden world of imaginary companions in a bid to understand the benefits.

The study of 44 children showed that the 22 children who had imaginary friends were better able to get their point across than were children of the same age who did not have one.

“We think that this is what facilitates their development of conversational skills - being in charge of both sides of the conversation,” avers Kidd.

The researchers also discovered that children with an invisible friend or personified toy had a better social understanding, and were very creative. They were also generally first born or only children.

“They were all very creative. The children treat these ‘friends’ as real, play with them throughout the day and refer to them in conversation.”

One child reported having a companion named Sarah, who had a pet dragon. Another enjoyed a friendship with an imaginary family, Mr and Mrs Driller who had two children.

The phenomenon of the imaginary friend is really misunderstood, said Kidd, according to a La Trobe release.

“People think it is rare when in fact past studies have shown that around 65 per cent of children aged between three and nine, have imaginary friends.”

His study of university students showed that those who recalled having an imaginary companion in childhood were more creative, more achievement oriented, and more emotionally responsive than students who didn’t have one.

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