27 May 2016
When looking at the current state of children’s play, its evolution over the last century has been colossal. The extent to which technology and the media is now ingrained in the lives of 21st century kids is made all the more astounding when you consider that the first iPhone was only released in 2007! This huge shift from traditional play to digital play has given rise to the question; has creativity become lost behind the screen?
Children’s play has come a long way since the humble 1900’s where entertainment for young ones consisted predominantly of hopscotch, marbles, spin tops and conkers. Right up until the mid-1950’s, kids play focused on an activity as opposed to an object or toy. Play was improvised and made up as it went along because props and scripts weren’t provided. Everything from the games to the rules had to be created. For the children of this era, toys just didn’t seem to be in demand, they were scarce in production and they were costly. Surprisingly, there was once a time when toy manufacturers only advertised their products on TV around the Christmas period!
However, as we all know, the way youngsters entertain themselves today has completely transformed with the advancements in technology and the internet. Video games first appeared in the 60’s and their popularity among children exploded. The Gameboy, which was released in 1989 ignited a love for electronic play among young people and revolutionised the way in which they spent their free time. Gameboy also acted as a platform for the debut of Pokémon, Tetris, Kirby and many other huge franchises. PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo DS and Wii established themselves firmly as everyday activities for the average 21st century child. These massive gaming companies, particularly Nintendo, have branched into numerous fields of children’s play in a bid to progress with the digitising times. Most recently, Nintendo’s interest in creating mobile-friendly versions of their gaming products reflects the huge significance of the mobile market and application store in today’s society and its takeover of traditional electronic entertainment.
The statistics and figures for mobile application downloads for Apple alone since they launched their app store in 2008 are mind-boggling. The store add over 20,000 apps to their selection monthly and one area that has completely blown up is that of children’s education and learning. Because child’s play has evolved from children entertaining themselves through activities and essentially making their own fun to children playing on consoles or mobile devices, some concerns have arisen. The fact that children are essentially provided with a prop and a script whilst entertaining themselves on a tablet or a phone has led to increased worries about the creativity of children being suppressed and the imagination being taken out of children’s play. This is where literacy apps like Ooks really come to the forefront. Now, more than ever, parents are downloading applications that encourage their children to challenge themselves and utilise their imagination. Social interaction itself enables learning and literacy apps that encourage storytelling and user communication like the Ooks app are the embodiment of what the modern-day parent want to see their children entertaining themselves with. The children of today are children of the Digital Age, they have an overwhelming choice regarding methods of play! Apps and the internet are an integral part of kids’ lives both at school and at home and are a far cry from the entertainment of the early 21st century. In such a fast-paced world, it’s important that children’s minds are stimulated and their inventiveness kept alive; Ooks does just this! Kids are encouraged to draw their thoughts, transform their ideas into stories and invent different wacky characters. Creative play is not a thing of the past, play has merely transformed with the times- now more than ever before, children can hone their ingenuity and express themselves!