NPR: Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills

I was fascinated by this article—it talks about how less and less children are playing pretend for amusement and instead are turning to the stimulation of video games, computers, and television much earlier. And you know, how that’s kind of a bad thing:

[According to [psychology professor Laura] Berk, one reason make-believe is such a powerful tool for building self-discipline is because during make-believe, children engage in what’s called private speech: They talk to themselves about what they are going to do and how they are going to do it.

And it’s not just children who use private speech to control themselves. If we look at adult use of private speech, Berk says, “we’re often using it to surmount obstacles, to master cognitive and social skills, and to manage our emotions.” ]

I really do believe that all the time my best friend Valerie and I spent playing pirates, waitresses, and “Marguerite and Esmeralda” (we were two old British ladies with butlers, tea and lapdogs) when we were 7 has helped me to navigate the world today. I’m glad that some people are taking note that while technology is an amazing tool for expanding the mind, it can’t come at the expense of learning the basics of imagination.