Bring Back Play!

What Women Really Think
Jan. 7 2011 2:52 PM

Bring Back Play!


Oh, how I agree with the story in the New York Times yesterday about the need to restore play to the lives of our children. There is always a danger in romanticizing the highlights of one’s youth, but some of my happiest times were getting together with my siblings and cousins at my grandparents' house. My grandmother let us take over the living room, turning her couch pillows into forts, draping everything with sheets, and getting so manically "worked up" with our games that my grandmother would eventually come in and apply cold washcloths to our overheated faces.  I remember groups of boys after school organizing unsupervised neighborhood-wide games of war-we girls followed them, hiding in the bushes, wary of becoming collateral damage.


This kind of child-directed mayhem has been almost entirely missing from my daughter’s life. When she was little I thought it would occur naturally-kids would just get together and play forts or dress up for hours. But everyone, from the earliest ages, was tied up in lessons or leagues, carefully supervised by adults, where they perfected skills (soccer, piano, tennis) that might give them an advantage on their college applications. The other day I was in a restaurant and the two-year old at the next table started getting restive and her mother, who had no bag of books or crayons or paper, handed the girl her iPhone and the child was immediately quieted and absorbed. I have no qualms with using whatever works in the moment, but it did seem emblematic to me of the replacement of manufactured screens for imagination. (A concern KJ raises .) Part of me is sure these tech-savvy, rules-skilled kids will be just fine. But I feel regret for my daughter, and I can’t help but believe that for this generation something crucial has been lost.

Emily Yoffe is a regular Slate contributor. She writes the Dear Prudence column. 



More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

iOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.


Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

The Ungodly Horror of Having a Bug Crawl Into Your Ear and Scratch Away at Your Eardrum

My Father Was James Brown. I Watched Him Beat My Mother. Then I Married Someone Like Him.

  News & Politics
Sept. 17 2014 12:02 PM Here It Is: The Flimsiest Campaign Attack Ad of 2014, Which Won’t Stop Running
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
Sept. 17 2014 1:59 PM Ask a Homo: Secret Ally Codes 
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 1:26 PM Hey CBS, Rihanna Is Exactly Who I Want to See on My TV Before NFL Games
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 1:01 PM A Rare, Very Unusual Interview With Michael Jackson, Animated
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 12:35 PM IOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 17 2014 11:18 AM A Bridge Across the Sky
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.