My hour of play this week was spent with one of my most favorite people in this world- my niece, Parker. She’s fun, spunky, sassy and hilarious – but most of all, the girl LOVES to play dress up, I know, I know, just like most four year old girls to ever exist. The only thing with this little one is that her favorite people to play dress up with is my friends, specifically the boy ones- because she finds it hilarious sticking a tiara and tutu on a 6’0 ripped teenage boy, because, well, who wouldn’t I suppose.
One major point in the TedTalk video I enjoyed hearing about was the mental health affect that the neglect of play has on kids. Sure, we talk about how it’s great for their social skills and creativity and just better for them over all, but does anybody ever talk about how it really effects them physically or how it affects their future? I thought it was great that this video shares with us the facts at hand about how play effects children neurologically. The speaker in the video tells us that children suffer from depression and anxiety orders 5-8 times more since the importance of play for children has been decreased gradually. One of the best parts about my three or so hours of play with Parker and my friend Jake was being able to witness and relate to the freeness in which my little one’s mind roams. I mean in this case, Jake was a chef in a tutu making us cupcakes with pink heart shaped sprinkles one second and he was a professional fighter the next. The things kids think of and where these thoughts can branch off to are endless, and its fascinating to see them translate it into a physical form from just their mental thoughts.
Something I, along with so many other people, think is terrifying about this society is the face that play has turned from a 5PM game of hide and go seek around the block with the neighborhood kids, into a virtual reality of playing dress up on a figure on the IPad instead of digging out Mom’s old clothes and seeing what you can create. The scary part is that this leaves little encouragement in our next generation for pure creativity and engineering, because everything is being done for them on a screen and all they have to do is click a button to select what they want to do, while sitting on the couch. Kids can’t entertain themselves or make friends as easily anymore because so much of the day is being spent focusing on a technological base rather than socializing face to face with other people their age and coming up with one of the endless activities they could do together. What’s sad is that parents see nothing wrong with it- it’s become such a norm that parents think they’re depriving their children of technological advances when they deny the kids time on technology, yet they are completely oblivious to the social and mental mark this has on their kids. The other day while out at dinner with my family, I look over and see a baby in a carseat carriage crying while his parents were eating dinner. I wish this was a joke, but it’s not- his mother pulls out an IPad and presses the play button on a video she had recorded of herself comforting her baby in hopes of getting him to calm down. Allowing so much technology in our lives effects us so much more than we realize- and it breaks so many capable bonds we could have. Though i just barely missed it by a few years, I am so thankful I spent my childhood hiding in any crevice i could find in my neighborhood while my friends yelled “READY OR NOT HERE I COME” while playing hide and seek rather than sitting in a dark room listening to a screen say “press play when you want to start the game!”img_1313

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