Creativity in Children: A Lost Art?

Atari 2600 Game Console

Atari 2600 Game Console

A recent local news report indicated that children were becoming less creative. Duh! With the advent of more sophisticated electronics, including telephones, music players, video games and the like, no wonder our children are becoming less creative. And this is nothing new. I did a Google search to see if I could find the details of the actual news report from the morning, and I found article after article about lack of creativity in children – dating back to 2010 and even earlier!

Yes, there are great advanced skills that can be learned from playing electronic games – technology has its place. Since the original days of the joystick, I’ve heard that video games often build good hand-eye coordination. I remember playing Ms PacMan and Donkey Kong for hours on my old Atari 2600 game console (y’all don’t know nothing about that!) But as children, we balanced (or were forced to balance) video play with good old-fashioned “gaming” – playing board games like Monopoly, Life, Trouble, Scrabble – games that required strategic thinking. Physical activity outside the house is almost non-existant, except for the basketball games you find at the local park. I remember my parents having to maneuver our car down the neighborhood streets like slalom skiing, trying to avoid hitting the girls jumping double-dutch and the boys playing pick-up games of basketball and football. I can’t remember the last time I saw girls outside jumping rope!

My parents used to buy us board games and books that were past our years. I can remember having a Parcheesi board and I was too young to understand the written rules of the game, so I did what any other creative child would do – I made up my own! And I played that version of Parcheesi for two years, until one day I decided to go ahead and read the real rules of the game. My children have LeapFrog Leapster games, which are all educationally-based. But I never have to pry them from their little hands. They are just as content playing “cars” on the floor, or re-purposing an item, turning it into a walkie-talkie, robot, ramp, or some device other than what it was made for! I enjoy watching them at their creative moments. It makes me think of  the  3-story’dollhouse’ I once made from an old cardboard box, and the dresses I made for my dolls – out of old socks. Let’s just say once I cut off the toe of the sock, it became a fashionable tam for Barbie!

Creativity is not being replaced by technology, not if parents play our cards right. We need to help our kids remember some of the things we did before all the electronics. They will have just as much fun!

(#31WriteOn Challenge: Day 4)