Mom of two Mischievous Monkeys: The change in play

Monday, August 20, 2018

The change in play

When I was growing up – and when the majority of you were growing up I imagine there was no such thing as a “play date”. When you wanted to play with someone you rode your bike or walked over and knocked on their door to see if they wanted to come out. Most times, unless they were grounded they were allowed out since most parents sent their kids out to play until the street lights came on or it was time for dinner. We might even pick up a phone and call our friends. Concepts that nowadays seem foreign to kids.

The one thing there definitely wasn’t during those times was parent involvement in the process. No one consulted their calendar to see when it would work to get John and Jane together to play. We just played. We weren’t trying to schedule play time around excessive amounts of extracurricular activities some kids are involved in or parents hectic schedules. We came home from school dropped our stuff off (some of us even had keys to let ourselves in while our parents were still at work) and then took off to a friend’s house. We came and went out of our friends’ houses in the neighborhood as if we lived there too, sometimes staying for dinner or vice versa. 

I have a strong feeling that it is this scheduling of play that leads to social problems for children later on, that coupled with the reliance on things such as texting and messaging online to stay in touch. We never had those options when we were growing up which was why we knocked on doors, made a phone call or simply entered our goods friends houses.  

Once they get older they have become so accustomed to someone schedule all their social time whether it’s group activities or one on one play dates that it’s hard to know just how to initiate contact and interact socially. Just watch a group of teenagers who all get together only to sit around on their phones. No actual face to face connections being made. They are also so used to having things planned out that they have a hard time knowing how to fill any down time and get “bored” easily.

While we have always made sure that our own kids weren’t over scheduled in too many activities at once their social play has definitely been different than ours was growing up. Both our kids attend(ed) choice program schools so many of the kids came from outside the neighborhood which necessitated scheduling play dates if the kids wanted to get together as they weren’t just down the street. So they didn’t have a large amount of neighborhood friends to go and play with.

In what ways do you find the world different from when you were growing up? 

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