I am a grandma now, and I long for those days when the sounds of children playing were not unusual. Child play is losing the fight with video games. For those who read my recent article “Playgrounds battle Playstation and Xbox,” I am still on about getting children of all ages to play games that involve fresh air and sunshine instead of game controllers. Let them fight scary figures on video games after dark between dinner and bedtime.
Those people who have studied for many years define it as follows, “Play is the work of children. It consists of those activities performed for self-amusement that have behavioral, social, and psychomotor rewards. Play is child-directed, and the rewards come from within the individual child; it is enjoyable and spontaneous.”
I can’t remember any of my children or their friends saying, “You want us to do what?” when I told them to go play outside. None of them ever asked me to define play. I also remember the battle to get them inside to wash up for dinner — especially during the summer months.
Playing is mostly associated with video games
According to researchers, children between the ages of eight and 10 spend at least eight hours per day with technology. Furthermore, seven in every 10 children have TVs in their bedrooms.
Many parents lose sight of the benefits of physical child play because video games and smartphones pose no injury risks. Moreover, no supervision is necessary, leaving parents free to do what they want. Screen-free time is essential in any child’s development.
5 areas of skills development
Everyday experiences right from birth develop brain connections. Interaction with parents, siblings and carers form the basis of the child’s senses to interact with others.
- Cognitive skills development enables children to solve problems and learn new things.
- Social and emotional development teaches the skills of interaction with others, self-control and helping themselves.
- Speech and language development help babies say their first words and 5-year-olds to say feet instead of “foots.”
- Fine motor skill development allows children to use their hands, fingers and other small muscles. These skills are crucial for picking up small objects, holding a spoon and using crayons.
- Gross motor skill development teaches children to use large muscles like those required for babies to sit with support. Then, sit without support, pull themselves up to stand, walk, and skip at about age five.
The role of playing in skills development
Although brain development continues through age 25 or even older, essential development occurs during the first five years. After that, they must practice those skills and build on them, mostly through play.
Through playing with other kids, children learn how communication can help them express themselves and negotiate their needs. As they develop their communication skills, their self-esteem, self-awareness and self-respect will grow.
Patience and sharing
Socializing with other children in play teaches interaction and sharing. The concept of taking turns is crucial in teaching kids to be patient by waiting their turn.
Games, puzzles and toys are tools to teach children to solve problems. While video games will also help with problem-solving, learning to collaborate with other kids to solve problems will benefit them throughout life.
The bonds created between babies and parents, siblings and carers, form the basis for bonding with others as they grow older. Their bonding skills will play significant roles in the relationships they have as adults.
Playing outside vs. video games
Some parents may argue that children learn all the necessary skills while playing video games. However, nobody will convince me that a child can bond with an animated character or build communication skills while playing a game with pre-programmed sound effects.
So, what am I on about?
I am not totally against video games. Although solitaire is now my style, I remember fun times playing some of my kids’ games. All I ask is for parents to encourage kids to play with other children — made of flesh and bone!