My local newspaper recently printed a good news-bad news article: children are finally heading back outside to play. That’s the good news. The bad news is they aren’t creatively building forts, playing cowboys and Indians, or playing sports. No, instead, they are chasing Pokémon.
Many jokes have been made about how Pokémon Go
accomplished in a day what Michelle Obama has been trying to do for
years: get people on their feet and moving. It’s working for my kids.
My son likes to wander our small town after dark playing the game, and
my daughter spent 6 hours one Sunday wandering her small town doing the
same! But that’s the extent of my knowledge of the game, so if you
aren’t familiar with it and want to learn more about the “pocket
monsters” you’ll need to google Pokémon Go.
variety and availability of various electronic devices, children – and
adults – are spending too much time being sedentary: watching TV,
surfing the internet, or playing video games. Decades ago, parents sent
their children outside to entertain themselves, to roam neighborhoods
and interact with other children doing the same. Comparing the two
lifestyles, words like “play deficit” and “play deprivation” are being
used often by people in the know.
Peter Gray, a psychologist and research professor at Boston College, says “Play deprivation is bad for children. Among other things, it promotes anxiety, depression, suicide, narcissism and loss of creativity.”
important to realize that play deprivation or play deficit is
detrimental for adults, too. Many of us are just as attuned to our
electronic devices as our children are. We are addicted to technology,
to the ability to be connected 24/7, and to the instant gratification we
get from those connections. The struggle of being disconnected is
And yet, we need to disconnect to refill our
inner wells. Writers especially need time to give our eyes a rest from
the glare of screens, to give our fingers, hands, and wrists a break
from repetitive motions that cause distress to our bodies. It’s
important for us to get up and move frequently to try and offset any
number of health issues that can beset us. In addition, our minds need
down-time to just wander, to discover new-to-us things, to enjoy the
beauty of nature without the distractions and stresses of everyday life.
So what can we do?
something that allows you to disconnect, even if it’s not a complete
disconnect. Start out small if you have to – 10 minutes without your
phone or electronics. Take a walk around the block and look – really
look – at your surroundings. Listen to the sounds around you. You’ll
be surprised what you notice that you haven’t paid attention to before.
the outdoors is not your thing. Maybe you sew, scrapbook, or just read.
Those things aren’t necessarily going to get you moving, but they can
still give you a break from electronics. Focus on patterns, or
pictures, or words. What draws you to one over another? As a writer,
how might you incorporate your focus into your stories?
We all lead busy lives and sometimes struggle to balance everything in a way that works for us.
What can you do to reduce the play deficit in your life and rejuvenate your soul?