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Here’s How Playtime Has Evolved Since You Were a Kid

The summer sun is fading into a brilliant blend of reds, purples, and pinks as the neighbor kids toss their bikes into your yard, grab a few sodas, and scramble to catch fireflies. You loved these kinds of nights, growing up in the 1980s. But your kids, rather than soaking up their surroundings, are tethered to their iPads, watching fireflies buzz by on their screens. Before tech took over, playtime without screens, gizmos, light-up gadgets, and educational apps was an actual thing, but nowadays, it looks a lot different.


Playtime of the Past

You didn’t play the same way that your parents did — and it’s likely that your child isn’t playing with the same toys or explore in a way that you remember.

Close your eyes and let your mind wander back to your childhood. More than likely, playtime was pretty low-tech. Sure, you might have had Texas Instruments’ totally tech-forward (for the time) Speak & Spell, or you may have even spent your days playing video games on that super-cool, very modern Nintendo. But you certainly didn’t have the entire world at the tips of your fingers on a smartphone.

Your version of childhood play probably looked more like impromptu romps through the woods, designing your own toilet paper and marker dresses for your dolls, racing pint-sized metal model cars through the dining room, or racing bikes with your BFF (down the middle of the street, no less). Oh, and all of this was done without a parent’s direction. Hey, no one is saying playtime back then was completely safe. It was just done without parents hovering nearby — and without the electric whir of a laptop battery vent, the blue light of a screen, or apps.

Modern-Day Playtime

The playtime we knew and loved hasn’t entirely disappeared. There are still kiddos digging in the dirt, playing backyard baseball, and dressing up in mom’s old prom gowns. Even though play may still exist, some parts of it have changed pretty dramatically.

You may have learned how to use a computer sometime in high school or even college, the cell phones of your youth were like bricks, and an app was something you ate before dinner. But, your child’s life is completely different. Your kiddo is growing up in a time when toddlers know how to swipe, tap, tab, and click, and kindergartners are learning how to code. Play may still include those traditionally low-tech games such as “Red light, green light,” but now, they’re using a computer screen to stop and go.

The Best of past and present

So, now you’re asking, “Is the play of my youth gone?” Well, not exactly. Those old-school activities, such as running through the yard or building with blocks, still exist. The problem is, they’re getting crowded out by technology. Given the choice between playing baseball IRL or playing a World Series pitcher in a video game, many kids opt for the screen. It’s easy, it’s enticing, and it’s fun.

No one is saying you need to nix screen time 100 percent. Let’s face it — your kids are growing up in a world where tech savviness is an absolute must. They’re going to use computers, apps, and whatever comes next in elementary school and well beyond. Knowing how to use technology is now a life skill. Now think about some of the age-old pretend play activities kids have played for decades. Many of these teach life skills that are needed in the adult world. Cooking, cleaning, caring for children, going to work, buying items at a store, and all the other pint-sized pretend play activities all translate into grown-up life. Mixing new technology into playtime is the new way to teach kids these adult skills.

As parents we wonder, we worry, we judge what’s better — the open type of play of the past or this new technology-based version? In reality, they both serve purposes. Maybe we need to forget about picking one way or another, and instead focus on blending them together into a new, modern type of childhood play. Things change. Our kids need to roll with those changes, and so do we!

How do you think play has changed since your own childhood? Share your answer and tweet us @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)

Alright, folks. We've officially made it to fall. And if you haven't already started switching out your decor (as long as it's ready by Friendsgiving, right?) you still have time to do so. Draw inspiration from this round-up of new home products that includes harvest-inspired candles, cozy linens and textiles, and a v. practical piece of furniture. One scroll through these, and you'll have all the motivation you need to transition the seasons. Scroll on to start shopping.

Prism x LOREM Collection ($96+): Calling all Cali babes. The popular Long Beach boutique, Prism, announced a boho-fabulous collab with home decor line, LOREM, that we can't get enough of. Shop everything from plant hangers (eight options, to be exact) to artwork, all inspired by the very colorful vibes of the brands. If you were looking for a cheery way to tide you through winter, this. is. it!

Floyd Mattress (Price TBD): Fans of the cult-favorite Detroit-based brand will love their latest launch debuting on October 29. The highly-coveted Floyd Mattress will have the same made-to-last design and superior comfort as their other furnishings, tailored perfectly to fit the line's in-demand bed frame. Additional details for the mattress include a breathable foam material, highly-mobile packaging, and a low-profile design to secure your best night's sleep yet. Check back on the last week of the month to get one for yourself.

Dims 'Composed Vanity' ($595): Small space? No problem! Direct-to-consumer brand, Dims, is giving you a quick and stylish solution to your storage needs with their newest item that doubles as both a desk and vanity. The functional piece is made with non-toxic, chemical-free materials and can be assembled in seven minutes or less. Throw in four sleek shades to choose from, and this may just be your best purchase of 2019 yet!

Saatchi Art x The Citizenry Holiday Collection ($225+): Get ready to deck your walls this holiday season. Saatchi Art partnered with The Citizenry in a one-of-a-kind collection that features a curation of art across styles. Explore everything from modern to abstract creations in a selection so stunning, it's bound to spark a conversation at your next gathering.

NEST Spiced Orange & Clove Collection ($16+): If you haven't experienced the addicting aromas of the beloved NEST fragrance brand, this is the perfect time to get on board! The label recently released their latest scent — spiced orange & clove — just in time for all your gatherings. Inhale festive notes of orange pomander, spiced brandy, cinnamon, and gingered honey across their suite of candles and diffusers to bring all the good vibes to your home.

Bloomingdales x RiLEY Home ($19+): RiLEY Home gets millennials. So they teamed up with Bloomingdales to make shopping their selection more attainable than ever. Now, you can get in on long-lasting, luxurious staples like flannel sheets, bedding, printed throws, premium pet beds, and more, by shopping online and in-stores at the department store. (Trust us: These dream goods are ones you're going to be *glad* you stocked-up on.)

Italic Serene Towels ($12+): The luxury brand that prides itself on using the *same* factories namesake brands (like Calvin Klein and Lacoste) use, but without the price tag behind them, brings you a new product for fall. Treat yourself to Italic's ultra-soft towel set spun from fluffy, 100% Australian cotton, in a convenient set of six. Consider it the perfect indulgence after a long soak in the tub on a cozy FNI (Friday night in)!

Hyascent x Neiman Marcus ($169): 'Tis the season for a delightfully scented home. Warm your abode with scents like bourbon joy, cheeky rose and more in a unique diffuser that doubles more as decor than a fragrance-inducer. Fresh off the (online) shelves of Neiman Marcus, explore nine scents that last up to six months in a specialized hourglass holder. (Shhh! Your friends will never know the secret of why your place smells so darn good!)