This week, I’ve been doing a ton of thinking about “play.” Typically, the idea of play makes me think of a park or playground, a basement with a video game console, kids on a jungle gym, etc. But really, what is play? According to dictionary.com, play means to “engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.” This led me to think a bit more… as adults, do we engage in play as well? Does it look the same as child’s play? Does it have the same benefits?
After reflecting on our BlueJeans conference from Thursday night, I realized that I actually do a lot more playing in my everyday life than I originally thought. For me, watching television is a form of play for me. I engage in the act of watching TV for enjoyment and recreation, rather than for a serious or practical purpose. Watching TV shuts off my mind and transports me to an alternate (and sometimes imaginary) world that is vastly different from the world in which I live. This is a somewhat adult form of “play.”
Additionally, for many years, I have been a Candy Crush Saga enthusiast. For those of you who don’t know, Candy Crush is a game that can be played on a smartphone, tablet, or computer. The game involves swiping “candies” to the left, right, up, and down, to make matches of three or more similarly colored candies. I’m sure that anyone who plays Candy Crush would attest to the fact that the game is highly addictive. Playing the game results in dopamine production in the brain, which is linked to what makes it so addictive.
This week, instead of just playing my regular games of Candy Crush as I waited in the waiting room, before I fell asleep, and while watching a boring TV show, I actually stopped to think about the benefits that this form of “play” had on me. First of all, it is somewhat of an escape from reality. Just like other forms of play, Candy Crush hooks me in and sometimes I feel so engrossed that I shut out the outside world for a few minutes. (Do I sound like an addict…? You decide!) This helps me to decompress, relax, and forget about the stresses and pressures of everyday life. In this sense, I discovered this week that Candy Crush, although it can be addicting and probably has had some pretty bad effects on my eyes/brain, it does have benefits as well.
So… is play just for kids? No! Play can be beneficial for all ages. Going into this next week, I’m going to focus on incorporating new play-learning activities into my classroom.