Do you think children use their imaginations as much as we did back when we were kids? Or is imagination being replaced with technology? Do video games, IPhones, IPads and the internet transport children’s brains to a robotic type state where the imagination part of the brain goes straight to the back burner? According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, children spend an average of 7 hours and 30 minutes a day in front of a screen. And according to the Federal Center for Disease Control, one in five children live within walking distance of a park or playground. With many decades of research on child development, we know that children need to learn through direct play and hands-on experience with other people, materials and nature. Children need to develop important social and thinking skills as they cultivate intellectual and emotional thoughts so they can deal with any social conflicts in a healthy way.
Often parents today think that if they give their children too much free time they are wasting opportunities for learning and preparing children for their futures. But these types of parental choices, though done with love and the best of intentions, ‘are not a gift to children’, according to current child development theory and research. Children today desperately need time and space to develop their creative imaginations free from adult agendas. Even if your child complains, “I’m bored! There’s nothing to do!” Try guiding them to figure out for themselves how to fill that time and their innate creativity will kick in and hopefully imaginations will soar!
The way to create a healthy imagination is to also provide children with products and opportunities to develop it for themselves when they are very young. These opportunities can be found in good ‘old fashioned’ play. The Children’s Factory offers a variety of Drama, Role Play, Art and Building Toy products designed to enhance and grow the imagination of your child. Not only will your child be more active, but it will hopefully help avoid health problems and weight gain in their future. When a child sits in front of the TV screen for several hours, they will also be heavily bombarded by junk food ads which in return encourages unhealthy eating habits. So make sure you set examples by limiting your own adult TV time.
So the next time you see your children engaged in imaginative play, don’t rush them to come in for dinner and homework…. Allow time for them to build that ‘rocket ship’ in your living room or open a ‘restaurant’ in your kitchen. You might just want to join in on the fun and make a space helmet out of foil or put the chef hat on as you help them make that ‘award winning’ Italian sauce for their pizza palace.