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Playing pretend and make believe: do children still do it?

My friend came across an interesting group of children the other day. She was babysitting them and asked if they wanted to play pretend. The answer dumbfounded her. They didn't know what playing pretend was.

This got me thinking. On the one hand, there are some parents who say that college starts in kindergarden, and will put money and effort into making sure their children go to pre-schools that teach skills that could possibly put them above their peers come kindergarden.

On the other hand, we live in one of the most interesting times in human history. Most children, from the moment they are born, have access to television, and apps on smartphones that are easy enough for them to operate.

I never grew up with a smartphone in my life like my little cousin who is 8. He plays Angry birds on his dad's iphone whenever we get together at holiday parties and whatnot. My first game system was a N64 when I was about 10, and the internet (dial up) when I was about 12. I didn't get a computer until I was in the seventh grade.

I grew up playing the backyard with a plastic sword and a cap rifle from disneyland, or in the living room with a wooden train set. With young children being exposed to all this constantly, it makes me wonder if imagination is dead, or if it just has become something else. I'm not sure. What are your thoughts on it?

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    Apr 28 2013: I probably should not be responding while being distracted by my four-year-old granddaughter who is being a baby cheetah prowling around on all fours purring, squealing with delight and pawing at my shins, for attention I imagine. Now, what was the question?
    • Apr 28 2013: All right you win this round sir. The basic question is, do parents (not all clearly) push childhood creativity out of the way in favor of early education that's not napping and finger-painting?
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        Apr 28 2013: I did not intend to derail the debate sir. My personal experience is that little ones today are as well-traveled in imaginary far away places as any of us were. I do believe that certain innovations in technology have presented very attractive alternatives to simple, unencumbered playtime. It seems reasonable that if parents become too devoted to filling every waking moment of the child's day with techno-tools that little imaginations could atrophy. What a shame to think of a young one feeling guilty for pretending to be a pirate or a princess.
        • Apr 29 2013: The reason I bring it up is because I see it in my family. Granted my siblings and I are older than the ones in the preface, but my parents pushed very early on to find something that we enjoyed, but could also be marketable. I attended an arts high school and really developed a love writing, acting and filmmaking, all things highly creative, and by my parents standards highly unemployable.

          Now I'm not saying that things like math and science aren't creative. It's just hard for a lot of people to wrap their heads around topics like that. What I am saying is, say a child early on loves telling stories, later, he realizes he can write them and pass on the joy he has to others through writing. But then someone tells him that being a writer isn't practical, and he should choose something else. It's saddens me to think about lost opportunities like that.
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        Apr 29 2013: RE: "The reason I bring it up, , , " That is a sad scenario. I have never experienced personally or by observation such ambition in parents. To cast aside the freedom of childhood in favor of enhanced employability is a poor choice. Kids will be kids it is said. Maybe it should say kids should be kids.
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          Apr 29 2013: I am also not personally familiar with parents focusing on employability for the very young.

          By secondary school that often changes, I know.

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