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Family pets boost child development, research shows

Tuesday March 7th 2017

Having a pet in the household can boost educational, emotional and social wellbeing in youngsters, a new study suggests.

According to the research by the University of Liverpool, having an animal in the family home can enhance social skills, promote greater self-esteem and limit feelings of loneliness.

"Anyone that has grown up with, and loved a family pet intrinsically feels the value of their companionship," says Dr Carri Westgarth, project leader.

She added: "The scientific evidence investigating the benefits to children and adolescent development looks promising. We dug deep into that evidence to understand which potential benefits were most strongly supported. Ultimately, this will enable us to know more about how pets provide young people with emotional, educational and social support."

The study assessed data from all child age groups, from birth to 18.

Of the outcomes, the study also suggests children aged between four and 10 experienced less anxiety and emotional issues if they have a family dog.

Among 10 to 14-year-old youngsters, pet owners show higher levels of social cognitive development and more advanced skills in terms of thinking and problem-solving.

Copyright Press Association 2017