Monday, March 14, 2011

The Evolution of Childhood Play

The BBC News article “Children ‘give playground games a modern twist,’” discusses the trend of children’s pretend play to incorporate ideas from the media. Long gone are the days where you see children playing mancala and hopscotch on the playground. Nowadays, you are more likely to see children imitating popular television shows like Survivor or American Idol.

Is this transition in childhood play detrimental? Luckily, developmentalists are saying that this shift is just a different type of play. Children are just as inventive as they always have been, they are just experimenting with themes that they are learning from television. In terms of the violent nature of some television shows, researchers are saying that children have always engaged in play fighting as a way of understanding the violence they see around them. Children will imitate the behavior that they see on television, but so long as they are being properly supervised, this type of play is not found to have detrimental effects. If anything, it gives children the opportunity to make sense of the world around them.

Those concerned that more traditional childhood games are being lost can revive them by teaching them games such as four square, jumping rope, marbles, and hopscotch. Children pick up from their environments. If you do not want them imitating violent television, use parental controls.

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