Monday, February 09, 2009

All Work and No Play makes Jack a .... serial killer?

Once again, one of my favorite magazines, Scientific America (and the specific "flavor", SA Mind) had a very interesting article: "the Serious Need for Play". It is fascinating to know that not only is playing good for you, but that it is essential and necessary for normal social (and perhaps intellectual) development. And especially the "free play" variety, where children make their own rules: too many parents are Gung Ho about "developmentally beneficial" games, activities -- sometimes not much more than organized preparation for school -- that their children barely really play at all. It's not all that playful if you just follow rules set up by somebody else.

The link to serial killers is mentioned, too; that most of the worst serial killers shared just 2 things: abuse during childhood, and lack of playing as children. And while it is hard to know what is the nature of correlation (is it just psychologically skewed individual don't play?), it is a chilling to think of all the consequences of parental actions, too strict disciplinary actions and abuse by absence and/or inattention.

There are many other interesting tidbits sprinkled in there: I didn't know, for example, that children use more complicated language when communicating with their peers, than with adults. When you think about it, it does make sense -- adults "help" by understanding this more easily, basically not demanding children to stretch their verbal capabilities -- but it's still not entirely intuitive.

Plus one more rather surprising finding: that "rough housing" (mock fights, rough playing, more common with boys) actually helps with development (or, correlates with it at any rate) of social skills. That seems very surprising, given the stereotypical image of naughty boys, and well-intentioned but misguided efforts by caretakers to reign in all such play.

Anyway: one more interesting article. I just need more time to read all these articles. :-)

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