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Is it the End of Play?

Play is dying. Yes, you heard that right.  The lover of all things play-related has admitted that the death of play is imminent. Each day we are getting closer to the end.  No, it is not a sudden, tragic death. The death of play has happened so slowly, that some of us haven’t even noticed how close to the end we really are.

What’s really killing play?

“I’m bored!” has become the new mantra of childhood.  Our children are spending less and less time outside, where the best type of play occurs.  In fact, children today spend less than half the amount of time our parents spent as children outside, engaged in free play.  What’s replacing all of the play time? Deep down, we all know the answer to that question. Technology and all of the devices that are filling our homes. Ironically enough, our children use these devices to watch other children engaging in free play. It would be funny, if it weren’t so tragic.

What are we doing about it? We’re spending so much more time on our own devices, that we are literally leading the campaign to kill play. We are teaching our children by example that entertainment comes from technology, rather than our own imaginations.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m a mom myself, and a realistic mom, so if it feels like I’m judging, please know that the finger I’m pointing is in my own direction. My children have had more Netflix days that I care to admit, and even worse is the amount of time I spend on my own devices. It is truly cringe-worthy.

Is there any hope for play?

What can we do about this death? Is there any hope for play? Of course there’s hope!  The wonderful thing about play is that it is instinctual. Everyone is born to play! It’s one of the first things we physically do as children.  Remember the first time your child found their toes and the excitement that came with it? We can revive that excitement right now. We can bring play back to life.  

Play doesn’t have to be planned.  Play doesn’t have to be expensive.  A cardboard box becomes a castle through the lens of play.  A discarded shoelace is a leash for an imaginary pet. Play is simple.  Play is natural. Today, take up your jump rope and protest the death of play with me. If you’ve forgotten how to play, just ask your child how it’s done.  I’m sure they haven’t forgotten, yet.

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