I often feel like the "odd man out" when it comes to my views on the current state of childhood play. Despite covering the latest and greatest in tech toys and apps here on The Rock Father, I'm not keen on making them a big part of our daily lives. I've touched on that before, and sure, I like to know about the "cutting edge," but here's the reality: As plugged-in as they are, the current crop of kids are largely missing out. They're missing out on using their minds - experiencing new worlds through imaginative play and interacting with the real world. What happened to playing dress up and creating adventures in your own neighborhood? A lot of kids aren't getting those experiences, and I think it's because some grownups have forgotten about their own experiences, and now they need a reminder.
We don't let our little ones run free with "devices" (not to say we haven't let them watch a video or two on the phone), but screentime is something that needs to be kept in-check. While we don't even own a tablet, there's a larger version hanging on our wall that could easily become an attention trap if left unmonitored. Right now, my oldest daughter, Addie, is the one who's most likely to become trapped by tech. That said, I make sure that we create our own adventures on a daily basis. One thing that we love doing is playing dress up, with a variety of costumes. Firefighter... Supergirl... Batgirl... Princess... we've had some range, but Addie wanted something new, and she was very specific in what she wanted to be: "I want to be a Fairy, Daddy." So, we bought her a new "Fall Fairy" costume online from Costume Express (they have Free Shipping on orders over $75, plus 15% Off with email sign-up). She picked it out herself (pics of the process are on my Google+) and it recently arrived.
Adalyn the Fairy was swift to explore the backyard... making sure to pay a visit to all of the flowers, and take an audience with the notorious Garden Jawa...
But as time went on, imagination took over... the adventure moving beyond the backyard and into a magical realm... through a mythical gate and into a land of Fairies that may or may not be home to a mysterious Castle [Seriously - Addie swears to me that it is there somewhere]...
Beyond the Gate, Adalyn the Fairy experienced an array of emotions... from joyous to dramatic, all while hunting for flowers that would compliment her dress...
And created memories that will last a lifetime...
Just because we grownups are in that always-on, always-connected mentality, that doesn't mean that our kids have to be. They'll have plenty of time for technological overload when they get older. For now, let the kids be kids, and let the children play. Imagination will take them places well beyond that of a grownups' dreams.
Psst! Curious where the mythical gate is? It's the notoriously-haunted (supposedly) "Devil's Gate" in Libertyville, Illinois... also known as "The Libertyville Gate."
About James: A work-from-home Dad with a pair of daughters (Released in 2009 and 2012) - James Zahn is THE ROCK FATHER™.
Bringing over two decades of experience in the entertainment industry into the family realm, Zahn is an Illinois-based Entertainment Writer, Media Personality and Commentator.
He serves as a PBS KIDS VIP (Very Involved Parent), has made guest appearances as a member of the Sprout Kindness Crew, was featured in the Father's Day issue of Lake County Magazine, and is a former contributor to Chicago Parent.
Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for the likes of FEAR FACTORY, DIRGE WITHIN, PRODUCT OF HATE, ARCANIUM and others, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands.
James and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Blogcritics, Fangoria, Starlog, The River Cities' Reader. Slowfish, Oil, and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360, and in 2013 he's been quoted on CNN, Babble, The Huffington Post, and The Good Men Project, in addition to making appearances on ABC News and WGN.
Learn more here.