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Share International Game Day 2018: we have to recover the playing time for our children

Laura Guerrero

Playing is a source of happiness and an essential element for the development of our children. Today is the International Day of the Game and, instead of celebrating it, we have to denounce that we are loading the playing time of the children with so much extracurricular and so much screen.

Children increasingly play less and each time they stop playing before, according to reports from the Children's Game Observatory. Today is a good day to reflect on whether our children are playing enough and, if that is not the case, to put measures in place to recover the play time they need.

Playing is essential

Have you ever noticed a baby playing? Take some object with your hands, give it a thousand laps, smell it, suck it, laugh if it makes a sound, throw it to the ground, pick it up again and it will get very angry if you take it off because it is doing exactly what you want to do, what you need to do, you are playing and at the same time you are learning.

Children need to play. It is not something that is done between the time you finish your homework and it's time for a bath. In fact, playing is a fundamental right of children (recognized in the Convention on the Rights of the Child), with the same importance as education or health. According to the Crecer Jugando Foundation, the game helps children to:

  • Develop intrinsic competences and interests.
  • Learn how to make decisions, solve problems, have self-control and follow rules. These rules, in addition, do not have to be written or be explicit, but are understood by the participants in the game.
  • Learn how to regulate and control your emotions.
  • Make friends and learn from others as equals.

For all this, the game provides a whole series of tools that facilitate the development of children and their transition to the adult universe by enabling them to rehearse, through the application of all their senses, their place in the world.

Every time they play less

However, in our society where children have everything, each time less is played. Lack of time and excess screen are the main causes.

According to the article entitled "The decline of the game and the increase in psychopathology", published in the American Journal of Play:

"In the last 50 years, free play with other children has been reduced significantly, while cases of anxiety, depression or feelings of helplessness have increased among children, adolescents and young adults. of different cultures have acquired the necessary skills for adult life through play in childhood, exploring and playing freely.Traditionally, the game has been the essence of childhood.

For Gonzalo Jover, director of the Observatory of Children's Games, "subtracting children's space and time to play means preventing them, not only one of their fundamental rights, but in the end, the ability to live fully their childhood." However, today, children spend much less time to play (about an hour and a half per day according to a study by the Spanish Association of Toy Manufacturers AEFJ), to the screens, which the latest surveys establish in 30 hours a week or to other regulated activities.

Fewer children to play

In addition to screen time, there are the hours that children spend in the evenings doing homework and extracurricular activities, often because parents have to work more hours after they leave school.

As there are fewer and fewer children, the number of unique children in families is increasing and, therefore, the option to play at home with siblings disappears. On the other hand, the street has long ceased to be the natural setting for peer-to-peer play. Until we get more friendly and safe cities for children will be leaving free access to video games and TV.

Childhood lasts less and less

Other aspects such as the education system are also influencing the way our children live their childhood. For example, according to the AEFJ study mentioned above, children have precocious adult interests. This is due, in part, to the step to the institute with 11 years and not with 14, since the jump to the secondary one implies, almost always, a rejection to the referring ones of the infantile world like the game and the toys.

In addition, the parents confirm that from the age of 7 their children prefer other activities other than gambling, such as video games or watching television or the tablet.

A day to reflect

Today is the International Day of the Game and it is a perfect moment to claim: more time for children to play and safer spaces for them to relate among equals.

Since Playing is a right, we propose several ideas to celebrate this day with family and friends:

  • Propose a game of Parcheesi, cards or any board game you have at home
  • Visit the facilities of the neighborhood that have prepared activities
  • Get off bicycles and tricycles and take a walk around the nearest park
  • Take out the dolls and the monsters for a walk
  • Go down to the park to play the spinning top, the yoyo, with ropes or jumping rubber, to the ball


More information | Foundation grow playing

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