What are the cons of technology and the pros of free play for my child?
Free play is proven to have helped children around the world develop physically, mentally and emotionally. This development can be hampered by the excessive use of technology and social media platforms.
1. Immediate Gratification. Children are not required to wait for anything as with technology most things they want are at their fingertips. They do not learn how to be patient and may become quick tempered.
2. Attention vs concentration. Technology affects a child’s concentration as the child is not required to focus their attention for a length of time. Even with technological games, the child is mainly using their attention as there are continuous changes and distractions on the screen. Attention is applied every day to all activities and objects as it’s the fleeting ability to attend to something that is distracting or interesting. A child needs to be taught to focus their attention and then focus it for a length of time. Concentration is the process of paying attention for any length of time. Concentration can be improved with practice. Technology prevents the child from learning how to concentrate which would affect their school work and other abilities.
3. Physical development. Looking at a screen for most of the day can affect the child’s vision later on in life. It also restricts their gross motor development (such as running or moving their body) and fine motor development (such as drawing or writing) from improving.
4. Social skills. A child is not required to learn to interact with other children when using technology. This would influence the child’s ability to form relationships.
5. Consequences. Children through to adolescents are still learning about consequences. Technology can be dangerous, there needs to be supervision to what the child has access to and to what messages or pictures are sent to others.
Children (between the ages of 3 and 8 years of age) are at a critical age to learn fundamental skills in order to develop holistically. Free play is any type of play that requires the child to think creatively and apply themselves.
Here are 6 life skills that free play can equip your child with:
1. It helps with cognitive skills. A child has to come up with new scenarios to keep busy. This requires the child to be flexible in their ideas in order to incorporate other children in their play. Free play helps children learn to manipulate their ideas and emotions.
2. It enhances problem solving skills. Free play promotes children to be creative in terms of thinking up scenarios and ideas in order to keep themselves entertained and busy. This develops their divergent thinking through scenarios such as storytelling, role playing, etc.
3. It teaches social skills. As children needs to learn how to interact with other children in appropriate ways. When a child is faced with a free play scenario with other children, this builds on their social ability, consideration, team work and other important areas of development.
4. It teaches self regulation. Self-regulation refers to how the child learns to regulate their own emotions. This can be achieved in instances where the child is required to wait their turn (as a delay of instant gratification). This further requires the child to face instances where they are required to apply reduced aggression, consideration for others, and empathy.
5. It teachers language skills. Children need to develop their language skills in order to communicate effectively in face to face interactions.
I6. It is a healthy emotional release for the child. Children have little control over their everyday experiences but they have control over their pretend play experiences.