The Importance of Traditional Play in a Digital World

Play comes naturally to kids. They use it as a way to express their feelings and learn new things. But in the age of electronics we live in, video games and screens can take over a child’s free time. Screen-free, or traditional play, offers benefits kids just don't get from playing on an iPad or on the latest game console. For parents, it's important to be intentional about creating opportunities where children can play freely, use their imaginations, and have fun. Here are the lasting benefits traditional play provides:

   

Social skills and leadership development

   

Children learn valuable social skills that will help them be successful as they grow. By taking turns, sharing, and interacting with others they are learning how to appropriately respond to others. During play, they are able to practice both their verbal and nonverbal communication skills. They also learn to negotiate when things don’t go as planned. Experimenting with different roles in their family and community as they pretend to play house, school, or store helps them gain insight into the world around them and interpret the feelings of others.  

   

Motor skills development

   

Children develop their fine motor skills through play. Using crayons to color a picture helps develop fine motor skills. Other activities that help develop fine motor skills are playing with play-doh, practicing scissoring, stringing beads, and using lacing cards. Gross motor skills are also developed during play time. Games like tag or hopscotch integrate the large muscle movement which will help children gain balance and spatial relationship to the world . Playing and climbing at the park helps kids learn to use their bodies and provides vital exercise for children.

   

Problem solving skills and emotional development

   

Kids can work through their emotions by simplifying situations through play. This helps them express their feelings and regain control. Play supports emotional development by providing a way to express and cope with feelings. Kids may act out something that scared them, like a car accident they saw while driving past. They may also play out something they are not allowed to do and then work through the consequences through play. “Play can be safe outlet to work through situations that cause them anxiety, such as starting school or visiting the doctor.  Letting the child take on the roll of the authority figure will help them process how events may unfold.” says early childhood educator Kara Thomas.

   

Development of imagination

   

Play builds a child’s imagination. You can help your child with imaginative play by role playing with them. Call them on the pretend phone, ask them to cook you lunch in the play kitchen, or have them use the doctor kit to do a check up on you. Engage them in conversation while you act out these scenarios. Often, you will be surprised at their perceptions. By role playing, they learn to better understand their surroundings and build their imagination.

 

Traditional play time allows kids to work through their emotions in a healthy way and develop important skills. It is vital to provide a child with adequate play time in their day, especially with all the distractions in today's digital world. The best part is, kids will be having so much fun, they won’t realize they're learning.

 

When Parents Play Too

 

Kids enjoy playing alone or with other children but nothing quite compares to playing with a parent. Although we may be busy with work or household tasks, taking time to play with our children has lasting benefits. Among them:

  • Makes your child feel special
  • Helps you understand your child
  • Provides quality time together
  • Creates one-on-one time with your child
  • Keeps you young and active
  • It’s fun for everyone

 

Share This Story

Sarah Lyon is a part-time freelance writer and stay-at-home mom to six children, including two-year-old triplets.

Our Daily Things to Do email is the easiest way to plan your day.
Follow Us
   
Want daily ideas of things to do? How about special offers & giveaways? Sign up and we’ll handle the rest.
Things to Do

Mad Mixtures
Tuesday, May 21, 2019
Thursday, May 23, 2019

Get ready for some simple chemistry fun with Mad Science! At this free workshop, preschoolers will learn simple chemistry concepts and make some modeling dough to take home.

View this event »
You Might Also Like...

From Our Sponsors
Popular Stories

Green Thumbs and Power Tools: Gardening With Your Kids Can Lead To Unexpected Adventures

Simply planting seeds with my sons is a thing of the past. They still love to get dirty and grow stuff, but now it’s understood that all backyard projects I propose need to involve at least one power tool, an experimental outcome and several DIY videos.
Continue reading »
Volunteers Needed: 15 Places in St. Louis Where Your Teen Can Make a Difference This Summer

Whether your teen is an artist, an athlete or an animal lover, they can help make the St. Louis region the best it can be with their time and talents, and gain valuable experience in the process.

Continue reading »
Sleep-Away Camp: Then and Now

Last summer, I was introduced to the wonders of modern-day sleep-away camp when my daughter spent a week at one for the first time. And let me tell you – these kids have it good. Real good. I went to sleep-away camp too, when I was a kid, and let's just say things have changed. Here are just a few of the differences between then and now.

Continue reading »
Play Street Museum Brings Kid-Sized Fun to The Streets of St. Charles

With its shops and restaurants, The Streets of St. Charles has become the go-to for grown-ups in the region. But now kids have a place here to call their own at Play Street Museum.

Continue reading »
Accumulating Children: A Beginner's Guide

The key to successfully going from one, to two, to three kids is really just learning how to determine whose immediate need is more life-threatening. Plus, you stop judging parents who put their kids on leashes.

Continue reading »
Follow Us