As parents, we often wonder about our children’s digital play habits. This report by The Genius of Play gives some great insight for us to think about.
Digital play is sometimes dismissed as empty time that doesn’t engage kids, but experts say there are many benefits to letting kids play in today’s digital playground. The key is to balance screen-based play with traditional play and ensure that digital entertainment is high-quality, as well as parental involvement, according to a panel of child development and digital media experts convened by The Genius of Play during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January. The panel’s findings are included in a new report that’s now available: “Why Play is the Secret Sauce for Raising the Next Generation of Digital Innovators, A Special Report by The Genius ofPlay.”
“Kids learn and develop crucial skills through all types of play – structured and unstructured, as well as traditional and digital play,” said Ken Seiter, The Toy Association’s executive vice president of marketing communications and the panel’s moderator. “It’s important that parents understand that screen-based or online play does not have to be an all or nothing experience. Our panel of experts was extremely knowledgeable and shared best practices for appropriately fostering kids’ development through digital play.”
The panel, which included Sara DeWitt, vice president of PBS Kids Digital, Dr. Jodi Sherman LeVos, director of child development & learning at Mattel, and emotional dynamics expert Dr. Erik Fisher, explored the evolving nature of play in today’s world and sought to provide parents with guidance on how to incorporate all types of play into a child’s daily routine. The experts’ consensus: when it comes to digital play, experiences that have a clear learning intent combined with parental engagement are paramount.
INSIGHTS FROM THE PANEL:
Play exists in a variety of arenas and forms.
Opportunities for play are everywhere: at home, in school, in stores, at amusement parks, etc. Kids get the most benefit when traditional and digital play exist simultaneously, in a balanced environment.
The best kind of digital play is high-quality content that’s designed with clear learning objectives.
These objectives should include: improving cognitive thinking; building language skills; encouraging social skills; and/or promoting creativity.
Technology gives kids a variety of perspectives on the world.
Technology supports traditional play by reinforcing key values and adding another dimension to the play experience. For instance, apps and gameplay can bring unique worlds to life and allow children to explore these worlds in a new way.
Technology can also help drive the benefits of play by emphasizing personalized and adaptive learning.
The best kind of high-tech play involves quality engagement in short bursts that engages kids while extending their knowledge in other areas. For instance, if a system can detect a child struggling with a particular concept, offering tutorials or prompts is an area where technology can really help kids learn.
Parents are highly encouraged to participate in their child’s digital play and ask questions.
Implementing this type of interaction at an early age builds on communication skills between parent and child, develops trust, and prepares children for more serious talks about internet safety as they grow.
“Why Play is the Secret Sauce for Raising the Next Generation of Digital Innovators, A Special Report by The Genius of Play” can be downloaded at TheGeniusOfPlay.org.P