Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Fostering Imagination in Children

            For being on the computer more often than I would like to admit (to myself or anyone else) most days, I have to admit that it disturbs me how much some parents let their children use technology. Arguably, SOME technology use can come in handy since whether we like it or not, we live in a rapidly advancing techno ago. We already had computers in schools when I was in elementary school, so I can only imagine what they use nowadays. (I do know some incorporate Ipad/Kindle type devices. Is this becoming more common? Just curious.) So, I can see how letting children become familiar and comfortable using different types of technology such as computers and Ipads would be beneficial for their future school performance.

            However, in my personal opinion for what it's worth, more and more parents are letting their children use technology in excess. It's not ok when children are spending more time on mommy or daddy's laptop than playing outside or with toys that require the use of imagination. Toy smartphones, laptops, or pretty much anything that requires batteries and make noise do not count. Why? They take all of the imagination out of play. Do I still let our daughter play with toys like that? Yes, but not very often. And to be honest when she does play with them, she's interested for a minute or two before she moves on to something else.
            It is said that children are naturally imaginative. However, children need real life experiences to help their imagination blossom even more. (An article I read on Britain's Babycentre said it best: How can you imagine being a turtle if you've never seen one?) People used to believe that children used pretend play as a way to escape reality. While this may be partially true, there are so many more important benefits. Imaginative play can
-help develop problem solving skills
-learn how to act appropriately in social situations
-promote creativity
-promote language development
-help children feel a sense of control
That's just for starters.
            So, I have a challenge for you. Kids are notorious for copying what their parents do, right? It would be a bit hypocritical to tell little Bobby or Susie their time is up for playing on the Kindle while you continue to use the laptop or other similar device. I challenge you to not only limit your child(ren)'s electronic gadget usage, but set a good example for them by doing the same. Make it a habit to set aside part of the day, say 15-30 minutes at the very least, to play WITH them. Let THEM choose an appropriate activity and let their mind roam free. Encourage them to use their imaginations, but don't do all of the work for them. If they want to play dress up, ask if you may dress up as well.
            How about you? Are you guilty of relying on technology to entertain your children more than you would like to admit? Or, what is your child's favorite pretend game to play? Do you play with them?


  1. I also think that to excess use of technology will kill children's creativity. Honestly, it is my recent problem with my kids. I try to limit their use of technology and watching TV. We didn't have any technology when we were kids, why can't children live without technology? They should be able too. TEchnology is not bad, but excess use is not good.

  2. We have dedicated screen free time in our house because it was getting out of control. I find that the kids end up keeping the screens off for 2-3x longer than our dedicated time because they are having so much fun playing.

  3. Agree! I have to fight the kids during the winter to turn the tv off and get outside. I'm always afraid they'll forget how to play and then oddly there come my kids running through the house attacking zombies and mutants. And then I'm reminded that I guess I'm doing okay balancing technology and childhood fun.

  4. its one of my resolutions to phone less, and tv less for them! they arent allowed to play games on my ohone or anything yet, so i dont need to worry about that technology issue ;)