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Kids Are More Creative Now Than in 1985

Kids Are More Creative Now Than in 1985

Kids’ increased exposure to TV and video games, combined with less time at school and at home for active, unstructured play, has many parents and educators concerned that kids are becoming less creative. In fact, the opposite may be true. A study published in the Creativity Research Journal found that kids “in 2008 were significantly more imaginative and took greater comfort in playing make-believe than their counterparts in 1985″ (Education Week).

How do you measure creativity?

Researchers from Case Western University analyzed students’ play at elementary schools using the Affect in Play scale, which measures four different components of play: imagination, emotional expression, actions, and storytelling. Over the 23 years of the study, children showed no difference in three of the components, but did show a marked increase in imaginative play.

This increase occurred despite the fact that kids have markedly less time for imaginative play than they did two decades ago– approximately 8 hours a week less. Measures such as No Child Left Behind and budget cuts in schools has led to the demise or reduction of recess for many students. So what is the source for this enhanced creativity?

Sneaking playtime in

One theory is that kids are sneaking in imaginative playtime without adults noticingduring school or at night when their structured after-school activities are over. And kids may be finding unconventional outlets for creativity. Some video games, for example, “call for creative problem-solving strategies” that provide the same benefits to kids that traditional creative play does (LiveScience).

In the end, it doesn’t really matter how kids are getting their creative play in, as long as they’re getting enough of it. And this study seems to show that they are. In fact, when it comes to digital and social media, kids’ creativity abounds. They are simply developing creative strengths in different areas than the generations that came before.

Let’s make an effort to celebrate creativity in children wherever we find it. How do the children in your life express creativity? What is the most creative thing that you did as a child? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Related Stories:

Is America Afraid of Creativity?

Can Playing Video Games Make Your Child More Creative?

5 Reasons Children Need Time to Play at School


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17 comments

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12:19PM PDT on Sep 27, 2012

I disagree. The toys of today discourage imaginative play. they may play games with more detailed plots and such, but only bc they have been led to do so by high tech toys and very focused toys. Back in the old days, a yarn doll was a baby with stick bottles, and a stick was a sword, and the woods were uncharted islands

4:59PM PDT on Jun 29, 2012

Totally agreed with John B.:

Stupidest thing I've read so far today.

When I was a kid you were thrown a stick and piece of string and you created an entire universe. You made the mutineer walk the plank, rescued the damsel in distress, explored new worlds, lived in the ocean, desert islands, the tropics, eskimo villages, the courts of Louis the XII and hunted lions and tigers and bears (oh my!) and this was generally on the 2 mile walk to school. That is creativity and imagination. Today if you have an imagination as a child they send for a psych to drug you.

Looking at a screen and running the different scenarios of whatever game they are supposed to "playing" is indoctrinating a child into getting orders as to what to do. It may get them very well primed for entering public schools and other institutions of learning where you are needed to obey without thought but this has nothing to do with creativity.

4:37PM PDT on Jun 29, 2012

I have children ages 5 (will be 6 in 2 months) and 2 (will be 3 in about 2 weeks). I think both of my children are incredibly creative, though in markedly different ways. My son (5) was diagnosed with Autistic Disorder at 3 so he does not "do" imaginative play, however, he is very visual and a budding artist, getting 2D art concepts that are not taught till at least jr high level. My daughter (2) can take a drumstick and a paper tube and turn them into characters or places where they have intense conversations together (yes she is very imaginative). I encourage all creative solutions, situations and pursuits of my children as I understand how important they are (especially for my visual learner). Of course video and electronic game time is limited in my household to as small a time as I can afford (based on how last thread my sanity is on any given day).

12:12PM PDT on Jun 29, 2012

thnx

1:37PM PDT on Jun 28, 2012

It is easier now to depict what creative idea one might have thru computer devices, when in 1985 you had to actually build it.

12:20PM PDT on Jun 28, 2012

Maybe more creative since 1985, but no where near as creative as 1955.

10:44AM PDT on Jun 28, 2012

"So little is expected of kids that even adolescents may not know how to operate the many labor-saving devices their homes are filled with. Their incompetence begets exasperation, which results in still less being asked of them (which leaves them more time for video games). Referring to the Los Angeles families, Ochs and Izquierdo wrote, “Many parents remarked that it takes more effort to get children to collaborate than to do the tasks themselves.”
...
In contemporary American culture, the patterns are more elusive. What values do we convey by turning our homes into warehouses for dolls? By assigning our kids chores and then rewarding them when they screw up? By untying and then retying their shoes for them? It almost seems as if we’re actively trying to raise a nation of “adultescents.” And, perhaps without realizing it, we are."
http://goo.gl/FrtNV

10:21AM PDT on Jun 28, 2012

I didn't know about this, but I love it! Kids need creativity,

8:16AM PDT on Jun 28, 2012

Stupidest thing I've read so far today.

When I was a kid you were thrown a stick and piece of string and you created an entire universe. You made the mutineer walk the plank, rescued the damsel in distress, explored new worlds, lived in the ocean, desert islands, the tropics, eskimo villages, the courts of Louis the XII and hunted lions and tigers and bears (oh my!) and this was generally on the 2 mile walk to school. That is creativity and imagination. Today if you have an imagination as a child they send for a psych to drug you.

Looking at a screen and running the different scenarios of whatever game they are supposed to "playing" is indoctrinating a child into getting orders as to what to do. It may get them very well primed for entering public schools and other institutions of learning where you are needed to obey without thought but this has nothing to do with creativity.

8:08AM PDT on Jun 28, 2012

Why do they have less time for unstructured play is the key question not being addressed?

Oh yes it's the parents trying to live vicariously through the children's achievements. Must get them into that elite Pre-school or the college might not accept them. If they don't play for the A division in Soccer she won't be on the cheer squad, and then won't have enough extra curricular activities to qualify for a scholarship to blah blah blah.

Helicopter Parents *Facepalm*

It's the structure that is sucking the life out of the children and making them apathetic and uninterested in anything but repetition of tv, which is in their face in the minivan, in the dr's office, in the grocery store, in the van, at home, before bed, at breakfast ...

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