There is so much opinion out there: Are computer games and TV harmful to children? Debate is coming from child-development experts, teachers, child-psychologists, parents—you name it. Most give a strong “Yes!” in reply to this question.
However, a loud “Yes!” also came from an unexpected person, the late Steve Jobs. He shared a similar viewpoint as many other technical executives and engineers in the Silicon Valley, who believed that technology kills creativity and wonder in children.
For example, Steve Jobs kept technology to a bare minimum at his home. He and a community of other similar-minded tech executives also sent their children to a Waldorf school, preferring a tech-free learning environment.
Many families are going against the techno-trend, and trying to give the next generation a childhood they had growing up, including real-life, outside, hands-on play experiences, with lot’s of time for imagination. This approach does give children a more rounded, balanced, and healthier foundation, as opposed to children who have unrestricted screen time.
There is a long list of reasons why you should limit screen time for children. And an even longer list of reasons why children should be doing active, outdoor, imaginative play. Here are some rich experiences that benefit children’s development on many levels.
- Outdoor play fosters a deeper connection to nature. The natural world is a teacher with many lessons to teach us. Children benefit greatly from having ‘free-play’ outside, and getting their vitamin D too.
- Building a cubby is an immense sense of achievement and ownership. As well as a place to ‘be’ and ‘belong’ to. The cubby house becomes a place to socialize, negotiate, and develop friendships.
- Indoor play, when the weather is severe, can be anything but boring when children are allowed to use blankets and furniture to build a cubbyhouse or fort. Set-up shops with groceries, a counter, and attendee can be another game where children get to live-out everyday scenarios.
- Sandpit play gets the body moving into all sorts of postures. Children strengthen both large and small muscles, including core-strenghth. With sand and tools come creativity, plans, experimentation, and problem solving. Add in more children, and you have communication too.
- Physical activity is needed everyday to get the wiggles out! Swimming is one of the best physical activities. Practiced all year-round, it forms the foundation of a healthy, active lifestyle.
This list is just about endless. It’s up to your own imagination to uncover more daily fun activities to get involved in with your children. Don’t get sucked into the idea that computers are educational. Yes, they can be, but the learning is limited and one-dimensional. Real-life play is rich, dynamic, and prepares children for the real world, full of real people.
I like to think of childhood as a rich tapestry of play experiences. If you try new things everyday, children will develop an attitude for a life-time of learning.
Encouraging new ways of playing can be tricky at first, but so worth the effort and thought. A lot of adult involvement may be needed to set the stage initially. Follow children’s natural interests and curiosity. There are many blogs and websites on the net that are solely dedicated to sharing different play experiences and ideas with others.
Computers just don’t cut it—real life is where it’s at.