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 noticing–during 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.