“Free Play” in children and teens vital to their social development
See the referenced article at: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090415102211.htm
Most of us parents would assume that this is just common sense – plain and simple, but now it’s backed by research too! Developmental psychologists at the Boston College have conducted a study that affirms the importance of “free play” among kids and teens in their social development. Play and humor are vital ingredients in developing an egalitarian attitude and a sense of cooperation and sharing. The interesting thing about this research is that the conclusions have been drawn from a study of early human adaptation.
To quote from the study, “… social play counteracts tendencies toward greed and arrogance, and promotes concern for the feelings and wellbeing of others.”
These conclusions have been arrived at by studying the behavioral patterns of the hunter-gatherers of ages past. Apparently play among them was more than a way to inject fun into their lives. It helped them overcome their innate need to be aggressive and dominate, and made cooperative society possible.
Such a study certainly serves as an important reminder to us parents to consciously balance the time our tweens and teens (inevitably) spend on the computer/internet and their video games, with “free play”-time with their friends and kids in the neighborhood.