When our kids are little, we sometimes look forward to a time when they will be a bit more independent. It feels so much easier when they’re able to tie their own shoes, use the bathroom themselves, etc.
But as long as each day can seem, the years really do fly by. Kids grow up faster than we realize when we’re right in the thick of it all. One minute they’re tucking in their stuffed animals into bed beside them, & the next, they’re fixated on their Snapchat filters.
With all of technology and social media available to kids nowadays, they tend to grow up even faster. The time for “kids to be kids”- to play, to use their imaginations, is often squeezed into a much shorter period of time than we used to give them.
One mom’s Facebook post is a heartwarming reminder to not rush the process of “growing up”, & to savor the time that kids are being kids.
Mom Meredith Masony of the popular parenting Facebook Page, That’s Inappropriate, recently posted a picture of her 10-year-old daughter, Sophia, playing in her new supermarket play center.
Meredith pointed out that there are some parents who would assume that at age 10, Sophia is too old to be playing “store”. They might find it odd that she’d request a toy like this marketplace, or thoroughly enjoy playing in it.
But Meredith’s take on it?
She is excited that her daughter still wants to play with toys that require the use of her imagination. In fact, she LOVES that her daughter still wants to engage in child’s play- because at age 10, Sophia is still a child.
I do NOT want her to grow up too soon.
We live in the age of social media and I think that kids have forgotten to play with their imaginations.
It’s not a slam against parents who allow their children to have access to technology. But it IS a reminder to parents that constant use of social media leads kids to become fully engaged in their phones.
They forget what it’s like to just play.
They forget how to self-entertain.
They forget how to use their imaginations, or how to see the life in front of them with their own eyes instead of through an ever-present iPhone camera lens.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is on the same page when it comes to how essential “play” is for a child’s healthy development.
According to research into the subject, pediatric experts found that participating in imaginative play provides a whole host of benefits for children:
Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength.
Play is important to healthy brain development.
In short, play is a critical part of a child’s development, & we should do everything we can to encourage them to do it as long as possible.
Meredith notes that since Sophia is currently in fifth grade, middle school is soon on the horizon and will possibly brings changes to Sophia’s pastimes.
But in the meantime, play away, kiddo!
As the creator of a website with a massive following, Meredith acknowledges that her work requires her to spend tons of time on social media. But she is, as she puts it, “a grown ass woman”.
As adults, we know the highs and the lows of using social media, and can adapt our behavior appropriately (well, most of us can… except the trolls that inevitably pop up on every social media platform).
But kids don’t necessarily know how to establish those boundaries for themselves.
The attention from social media can be intoxicating, leading kids to become more fixated on seeking out validation.
And in turn, kids can be crushed by the negativity on the very same platforms; it’s a double-edged sword.
Social media is not inherently evil, nor is Meredith judging parents who allow their children to use it. What she is saying, however, is that if your child is happy playing with “childish” games & activities- LET THEM.
Don’t cave to the pressure of giving your kid a phone if you’re not ready for them to have one. There’s no rush. It’s ok if your child still enjoys his or her toys. It’s ok if they have to wait until they’re older to have their own social media accounts.
Or as Meredith put it:
Don’t let anyone pressure you into having your kids grow up too soon. Let kids be kids.
When you consider the average human life span, childhood is a very small slice of it. Our kids will have many, many years of adulthood ahead- there’s no need for us to rush them toward it even earlier.