|September 9th, 2009|
There’s an editorial by Stuart Brown in the NYT advocating for more play time — physical, unstructured play time — during the school year for kids. Much of the argument is right in line with “theory of fun” principles…
For most American children in the not-so-distant past, “going out to play” was the norm. Today, according to a University of Michigan study, children spend 50 percent less time outside than they did just 20 years ago — and the 6.5 hours a day they spend with electronic media means that sitting in front of a screen has replaced going out.
Tossed in amidst the article is the quote
Physically engaging play is actually more fun than the virtual sort, and the enlivenment one gets from it can transcend the allure of sedentary life in a two-dimensional, electronic world.
which I don’t think is really clear from the science — our brains seem to regularly get fooled into thinking that the screen is a real world. That said, assertion or not, I think it is fair to say that the many other benefits of physical play outweigh the quibble.
The real entertainment, however, comes in the 9 pages (!) of comments, full of childhood reminiscences from people from all walks of life describing their playtime — stickball, bikes, splashing in creeks, roleplay, swings — and debate on “stranger danger.”