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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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    May 4 2013: It's an interesting question you pose here, Case, and is something I was just thinking about the other day. With all this technology kids seem to use their imagination much less. They also seem to get bored more easily. Why is this? Perhaps they are becoming too used to a busy world with technology to keep them occupied. I wonder what future technology may bring.

    When I was growing up I spend a lot of time playing outside, and it saddens me somewhat to see my sister whiling away hours on my Dad's iPhone. But it's a different world out there now.

    I guess where children live has a bearing on how much time they spend using their imagination or spending time outdoors. Children living in rural areas might have less activities to keep them occupied and so might be more inclined to play pretend.

    Overall, I think children do still use their imaginations and play pretend, but they just don't have to do it as much in this day and age.

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