Creative Learning: Children and Technology
I was recently out to dinner and noticed a family with young children at a nearby table. Each family member had an electronic device in front of them and everyone was so engaged in their own devices that they weren’t talking to one another. In this media age, televisions, computers, phones, tablets, and other media devices have become the norm in most households as a form of play and entertainment for children. How can parents help children play, learn, grow, and explore the world around them in the new media age?
Technology and Child Development
Many teachers are observing children who are less creative in their play and show less interest in areas such as art and music. One particular organization, TRUCE (Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children’s Entertainment), focuses their efforts on improving children and family play. This organization of early childhood educators is concerned with how the media age is changing the way children are playing and how it ultimately affects their learning, social growth and their cognitive growth. TRUCE discusses the prevalence of this problem and how families can make time to play together by providing ideas and resources.
A New Diagnosis: Play Deficit Disorder
Child’s play that is inspired by their own ideas, experiences, and imaginations is a wonderful sight. Unfortunately, teachers are not observing this as often in the classroom. As parents find home and family needs to be more and more demanding, it’s easy to put electronic devices in front of their children as a way to entertain them. Because of this trend, children tend to be engaged in less creative and hands on play at home. TRUCE has termed this new lack of creativity and imagination “Play Deficit Disorder”.
Creativity and imagination can be stifled by videos and games on electronic devices because they don’t allow children to play completely on their own terms. While some games may be educational, they are not open-ended. The game is limited to the computer programmer’s imagination. This lack of requirement for a child’s imagination to play these games further the play deficit our children are facing. Not only does it limit the creativity of the child, but it limits the physical interaction needed to play the game. Take the game of Memory, for example. A child may learn from the online game of Memory, but wouldn’t they benefit more by playing the actual game of Memory? Not only will they use their memory to match the tiles, but they would physically have to turn the tiles over and could even play the game with others instead of by themselves.
Time to Play
TRUCE provides wonderful ideas on how families can lessen the impact of the “Play Deficit Disorder” by creating Play Plans. Each Play Plan contains questions for parents to ask children in order to increase engagement and interest. A neat part of each plan is that it includes ways for families to develop a “screen turn-off” ritual before family playtime begins. One of the family plans created for spring and summer time is called “Turn off the Screen and Turn on the Bubbles”. This particular plan provides art activities, a recipe for bubbles, and even games such as Bubble Tag. Visit www.TRUCEteachers.org for Play Plans created by TRUCE!
Why Creativity is Important
Parents and teachers should work together to decrease screen time for children. If their time in front of media devices ultimately decreases creativity and imagination, we must work together to improve the issue. After all, creativity is an extremely important part in a child’s development because it involves imagination, problem solving, and communication skills and also promotes their emotional, social, and cognitive development.
The social, emotional and cognitive growth in children is greatly influenced by play and at The Compass School, we truly believe in the benefits of playtime and quality family time. Allowing children to explore their own interests and passions through play allow them to have fun learning and have a better understanding the world around them!
For more information on TRUCE, read Blakely Bundy and Diane Levin’s article, TRUCE Family Plans: Encouraging Families to Play Together in the Media Age.