PLAY IN DIFFERENT GENERATIONS Play Children have been playing since the beginning of time. The toys they have played with have changed through the generations. In past generations play was often inspired by the changing seasons, and different games were played at different times of the year, e.g. Conkers. Play The manner in which children play has also changed over the years. How has the way they play changed since you were a child? Do you think the changes are beneficial? Play Today Many people believe that the ways children play now are not always beneficial for children, and that children are not allowed or encouraged to run and play and use their imagination as much as they should. Play now and then Play in the past Children played in groups Few organised activities Different age groups socialised together Younger children learned games from the older ones Many of the games were outdoors Many of the games were physical Friends were close to home Play today Smaller families, less groups of children Children have scheduled activities Less contact between children of different ages Children are inside more Friends can live a distance away Organised Playdates. Play and Technology DVDs, video games, robotic toys – they are mostly designed for indoor use. The games are attractive and almost addictive to children. These toys are expensive, but do children need them? The Cardboard Box A cardboard box can be a car, an ark, a plane, a castle, limited only by the imagination of the child. A few markers and some imagination help to make it whatever the child wants. In the past children had more opportunity to play like this as they had to make their own amusement without the help of technology and toy superstores. Play Now and Then Swings, slides. Hopscotch. Skipping. Riding a bike. Playing Tag. Playing Football. Today’s children are more interested in getting to the next level on their computer game. Play is very often isolated and indoors. Finding the Balance There is nothing inherently wrong with today’s toys, but adults should remember to also look for toys that allow children to use their imaginations, to use their physical skills, and toys that are designed for outdoor play. Ages of Friends Children today tend to be in clubs, groups and societies. Clubs tend to organise children into groups according to their ages. This means that children today spend less time with older children than their parents did when they were young. Research into Modern Play Postmann (1984) believes that the media have drawn children away from playing outside with friends. Kline (1993) believes that interactive games are detrimental to children’s imagination. Lindstrom (2003) agrees with Kline and suggests that they stifle children’s creativity. Interactive Media Interactive media are an important part of children’s everyday life in much of the Western World. This is a reflection of how cultural and social changes effect how children play. A study conducted by the LEGO Learning Institute in Denmark suggested that it is not just the marketing of new gadgets that make children want to play with them, but it is the fact that they fill a gap that has been left by the changes in our world. Children no longer have the group of friends in the village to play with, but by going online they have access to many friends. The study suggested that new media and toys are a replacement “for the cultural heritage that was previously supplied by older children”.