“Too little nature, too much television; there is evidence showing that this leads to attention difficulties. For each hour of television watched per day by pre-schoolers, there is a 10 per cent increase in the likelihood they will develop concentration problems and symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder by the age of seven.”
Mr Willetts was addressing the Daycare Trust conference into child care and the way children are raised.
He said he was convinced that children develop their conceptual framework through experiencing the world in three dimensions.
“It is very hard to make sense of geometry if you haven’t thrown a ball around or make sense of volume if you haven’t messed about with water and sand or do arithmetic if you haven’t collected things and arranged them.”
As Jimmy points out, with baby animals playful wrestling and mock fighting prepares them for the real thing later in life. So with humans too:
And humans have the same instinct, which is one of the reasons human boys wrestle and engage in rough-and-tumble play and play cowboys and indians or cops and robbers or whatever the local cultural variant of the game is.
It’s also part of why we get a thrill out of reading suspenseful or scary stories: We mentally put ourselves through dangerous situations in such stories (vicariously, through the characters) so that we’ll be able to better handle danger ifwhen we encounter it in real life.
This kind of play thus has an important function.
I think most kids these days are horribly deprived of some of the most important educational opportunities of childhood: running around in the backyard; making mud pies; climbing trees; digging holes; splashing in the local creek, lake, river or ocean; looking at bugs; getting bored; finding their own ways to amuse themselves. Kids need less structure, not more; more recess, not more time doing test prep.