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Exploding Creativity

November 21st, 2008 at 12:39 pm

Lack of Playtime Hurts Childrens’ Creativity

Play is a creative state. This is true for children and adults, at home, in a school setting, in a work environment, etc. You don’t have to play to be creative, but playing is being creative.

The article Experts: Lack of playtime is hurting children discusses how the average American child has 8-12 fewer hours of free play today than they did in the 1980s. This is due to things such as parents’ reluctance to let their kids play outside due to fear of abduction or injury; parents’ scheduling of lessons, organized sports, and other structured activities; kids watching more hours of TV, playing video games, using the Internet and cell phones; the shortening or elimination of recess at many schools; and more emphasis on formal learning in preschool and more homework for elementary school students.

Some excerpts:

  • Play equals learning. Creative, spontaneous play is vital. It fosters innovation and creative thinking.
  • The most vital form of play for young children involves fantasy and role-playing with their peers. They’re inventing abstract thinking before the world tells them what to think.
  • Lack of play in early education “could be the next global warming” crisis. It puts American children at a disadvantage in the global economy.
  • Diminished time for free play with other children is producing a generation of socially inept young people and is a factor in the high rates of obesity, anxiety, attention-deficit disorder, and depression in our youth.
  • Organized sports do not necessarily breed creativity and can lead to burnout and frustration.
  • Lack of free play at preschools, with more emphasis on academics, reduces children’s chances to learn on their own about fairness, kindness, and other social interactions.

One thing that caught my eye is “playing video games.” Isn’t “playing video games” playing, and therefore being in a creative state? Are they “creative, spontaneous play” and “fantasy and role-playing with peers”? I suppose some could be. Games do involve fantasy and you can role play with peers. The peers may be on-line and not face-to-face, and the peers could be complete strangers who happen to be on-line and playing at the same time. The fantasy involved in a lot of games is the killing of people in a crime or combat setting, though games for younger children are more tame. The kids are still playing someone else’s game, someone else’s set of rules. Are the kids developing innovative, abstract, and creative thinking? Are they learning about fairness, kindness, and how to be social? If a kid can sit down and play a video game for hours, can they be diagnosed with ADD? Can video games be addictive? Can they change a child’s behavior, cause anxiety or depression? You may want to check out:

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