The remains of the first toys date date back over 2,000 years and include many indications of hide and seek and ring around the rosie. But it was not until the 17th century that the first studies were done proving the importance of play in the learning and developmental process of a child. J. Goldsteins declared that "the game is the prism through which children experience their world and the world of others".
Playing is a vital part of a child's health, as it generates positive emotions. As an only child with no cousins nearby, my childhood required a little imagination and creativity. My bunk bed became my dream home, my lamp was my friend the owl, I mixed magic potions to defend myself from monsters, all with a princess braid in my hair.
The era of the digital kid
In more recent years, I have noticed a completely new generation. Personally, I only had my first encounter with a computer in sixth grade, but nowadays kids interact with smartphones, tablets, computers, and other technological devices from the very first months of their lives.
In 2011, a survey from AVG (a company known for anti-virus software) tried to define the way in which the interaction between children and technology has evolved. Currently, the most common competency amongst children is solving a puzzle (77%) which is followed directly by using a mouse (69%). 66% of kids know how to turn a computer on and off, while only 11% are able to tie their shoes.
Another survey conducted in late 2012 by Eurispes and Telefono Azzurro shows that 44% of kids use a computer for at least an hour a day and 62% of children between the ages of 6 and 9 own a phone—half of which are able to download an app.
What happens in these cases?
Children can turn into passive users, trapped in a virtual reality which leaves no room for imagination. Risk for isolation, depression, and obesity then becomes a concern.
However, do not be alarmed. The advantages of digital devices are very highand it is fundamental for allowing the child to improve their cognitive integration, as long as they are not retreating into their own world.
*This is demo content