In psychology and ethology, play is a range of voluntary, intrinsically motivated activities normally associated with recreational pleasure and enjoyment. Play is commonly associated with children and juvenile-level activities, but play occurs at any life stage, and among other higher-functioning animals as well, most notably mammals.
Many prominent researchers in the field of psychology, including Melanie Klein, Jean Piaget, William James, Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and Lev Vygotsky have viewed play as confined to the human species, believing play was important for human development and using different research methods to prove their theories.
Play is often interpreted as frivolous; yet the player can be intently focused on their objective, particularly when play is structured and goal-oriented, as in a game. Accordingly, play can range from relaxed, free-spirited and spontaneous through frivolous to planned or even compulsive. Play is not just a pastime activity; it has the potential to serve as an important tool in numerous aspects of daily life for adolescents, adults, and cognitively advanced non-human species (such as primates). Not only does play promote and aid in physical development (such as hand-eye coordination), but it also aids in cognitive development and social skills, and can even act as a stepping stone into the world of integration, which can be a very stressful process. Play is something that most children partake in, but the way play is executed is different between cultures and the way that children engage with play varies universally.
== Definitions == The seminal text in the field of play studies is the book Homo Ludens first published in 1944 with several subsequent editions, in which Johan Huizinga defines play as follows:
Play can take the form of improvisation or pretence, interactive, performance, mimicry, games, sports, and thrill-seeking, such as extreme or dangerous sports (sky-diving, high-speed racing, etc.). Philosopher Roger Caillois wrote about play in his 1961 book Man, Play and Games and Stephen Nachmanovitch expanded on these concepts in his 1990 book Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art. Nachmanovitch writes that:
Structured play has clearly defined goals and rules and such play is called a "game". Other play is unstructured or open-ended. Both types of play promote adaptive behaviors and mental states of happiness.
Sports with defined rules will take place within designated play spaces, such as sports fields where, in Soccer for example, players kick a ball in a certain direction and push opponents out of their way as they do so. While appropriate within the sport's play space, these same behaviors might be inappropriate or even illegal outside the playing field. # Attunement play, which establishes a connection, such as between newborn and mother. # Body play, in which an infant explores the ways in which his or her body works and interacts with the world, such as making funny sounds or discovering what happens in a fall. # Object play, such as playing with toys, banging pots and pans, handling physical things in ways that use curiosity. # Social play, play which involves others in activities such as tumbling, making faces, and building connections with another child or group of children. # Imaginative or pretend play, in which a child invents scenarios from his or her imagination and acts within them as a form of play, such as princess or pirate play. # Storytelling play, the play of learning and language that develops intellect, such as a parent reading aloud to a child, or a child retelling the story in his or her own words. # Creative play, by which one plays with imagination to transcend what is known in the current state, to create a higher state. For example, a person might experiment to find a new way to use a musical instrument, thereby taking that form of music to a higher plane; or, as Einstein was known to do, a person might wonder about things which are not yet known and play with unproven ideas as a bridge to the discovery of new knowledge.
Separate from self-initiated play, play therapy is used as a clinical application of play aimed at treating children who suffer from trauma, emotional issues and other problems.
In young children, play is frequently associated with cognitive development and socialization. Play that promotes learning and recreation often incorporates toys, props, tools or other playmates. Play can consist of an amusing, pretend or imaginary activity alone or with another. Some forms of play are rehearsals or trials for later life events, such as "play fighting", pretend social encounters (such as parties with dolls), or flirting. Modern findings in neuroscience suggest that play promotes flexibility of mind, including adaptive practices such as discovering multiple ways to achieve a desired result, or creative ways to improve or reorganize a given situation (Millar, 1967; Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000).
As children get older, they engage in board games, video games and computer play, and in this context the word gameplay is used to describe the concept and theory of play and its relationship to rules and game design. In their book, Rules of Play, researchers Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman outline 18 schemas for games, using them to define "play", "interaction" and "design" formally for behaviorists. Similarly, in his book Half-Real: Video Games between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds, game researcher and theorist Jesper Juul explores the relationship between real rules and unreal scenarios in play, such as winning or losing a game in the real world when played together with real-world friends, but doing so by slaying a dragon in the fantasy world presented in the shared video game.
Learning through play has been long recognized as a critical aspect of childhood and child development. Some of the earliest studies of play started in the 1890s with G. Stanley Hall, the father of the child study movement that sparked an interest in the developmental, mental and behavioral world of babies and children. Play also promotes healthy development of parent-child bonds, establishing social, emotional and cognitive developmental milestones that help them relate to others, manage stress, and learn resiliency.
Modern research in the field of affective neuroscience (the neural mechanisms of emotion) has uncovered important links between role play and neurogenesis in the brain. For example, researcher Roger Caillois used the word ilinx to describe the momentary disruption of perception that comes from forms of physical play that disorient the senses, especially balance.
Studies have found that play and coping to daily stressors to be positively correlated in children. By playing, children regulate their emotions and this is important for adaptive functioning because without regulation, emotions could be overwhelming and stressful.
Evolutionary psychologists have begun to explore the phylogenetic relationship between higher intelligence in humans and its relationship to play, i.e., the relationship of play to the progress of whole evolutionary groups as opposed to the psychological implications of play to a specific individual.
Play is explicitly recognized in Article 31 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations, November 29, 1989), which declares: * Parties recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts. * Parties shall respect and promote the right of the child to participate fully in cultural and artistic life and shall encourage the provision of appropriate and equal opportunities for cultural, artistic, recreational and leisure activities.
===History of childhood playtime===
American historian Howard Chudacoff has studied the interplay between parental control of toys and games and children's drive for freedom to play. In the colonial era, toys were makeshift and children taught each other very simple games with little adult supervision. The market economy of the 19th century enabled the modern concept of childhood as a distinct, happy life stage. Factory-made dolls and doll houses delighted young girls. Organized sports filtered down from adults and colleges, and boys learned to play with a bat, a ball and an impromptu playing field. In the 20th century, teenagers were increasingly organized into club sports supervised and coached by adults, with swimming taught at summer camps and through supervised playgrounds. Under the New Deal's Works Progress Administration, thousands of local playgrounds and ball fields opened, promoting softball especially as a sport for all ages and both sexes. By the 21st century, Chudacoff notes, the old tension between parental controls and a child’s individual freedom was being played out in cyberspace.
== Cultural Differences of Play == The act of play time is a cross-cultural phenomenon that is universally accepted and encouraged by most communities however it can differ in the ways that is performed.
Some cultures, such as Euro-American cultural heritages, encourage play time in order to stress cognitive benefits and the importance of learning how to care for one’s self. Other cultures, such as people of African American or Asian American heritages, stress more group oriented learning and play where kids can learn what they can do with and for others.
Parent interactions when it comes to playtime also differs drastically within communities. Parents in the Mayan culture do interact with their children in a playful mindset while parents in the United States tend to set aside time to play and teach their children through games and activities. In the Mayan community, children are supported in their playing but also encouraged to play while watching their parents do household work in order to become familiar with how to follow in their footsteps. Communities in the Sahara will use clay figures as their forms of playful toys.
Play time can also be used as a way for children to learn the mature ways of their culture. Many communities use play as a way children can emulate work. For instance, children can be seen comforting their toy dolls or animals something that they have modeled from adults in their communities. Children from San Pedro and Efe can be seen making ‘food’ from dirt or pretending to shoot bows and arrows much like their elders. The way in which children mimic work through their play can differ with what opportunities they have access to but is something that tends to be promoted by adults.
==Sports== Sportive activities are one of the most universal forms of play. Different continents have their own popular/dominant sports. For example, European, South American, and African countries enjoy soccer (also known as ‘football’ in Europe), while North American countries prefer basketball, ice hockey, baseball, or American football. In Asia, sports such as table tennis and badminton are played professionally; however soccer and basketball are played amongst common folks. Victory and defeat in sports can also influence one’s emotions to a point where everything else seems so irrelevant. and these conditions predict a richer personal and interpersonal development. Anxiety, depression and obesity can stem from lack of activity and social interaction. There is a high correlation between the amount of time that youth spend playing sports and the effects of physical (e.g., better general health), psychological (e.g., subjective well being), academic (e.g., school grades), and social benefits (e.g., making friends). Play is originally based on the idea of children using their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, physical, cognitive and emotional strength. Dramatic play is common in younger children. : * enhanced functioning and health of Cardiorespiratory and Muscular systems Girls involved in sport tend associate with lower chance of teenage pregnancy, begin smoking, and/or developing breast cancer. Young athletes have shown lower levels of total cholesterol and other favorable profiles in serum lipid parameters associated with cardiovascular disease. Some adult "hobbies" are examples of such creative play. In creative professions, such as design, playfulness can remove more serious attitudes (such as shame or embarrassment) that impede brainstorming or artistic experimentation in design.
==Workplace== There has been extensive research when it comes to the benefits of play amongst children, youth, and adolescence. Most commonly overlooked are the benefits of play for adults, more specifically, adults who spend a lot of time in the workplace. Many adults in North America are in the workforce and spend half of their waking hours in a workplace environment with little to no time for play. Play in this context refers to leisure-type activities with colleagues during lunch breaks or short breaks throughout the working day. Leisure activities could include, but are not limited to, different forms of physical sport activities, card games, board games, video games and interaction-based type video games, foosball, ping-pong, yoga, and boot-camp sessions.
Research shows that playing games may promote a persistent and optimistic motivational style and positive affect. Positive affect enhances people’s experiences, enjoyment, and sense of satisfaction derived from the activity, during their engagement with a certain task. While people are engaged in their work, positive affect increases the satisfaction they feel from the work, and this has also been shown to increase their creativity and improve their performance on problem-solving tasks as well as other tasks. The development of a persistent motivational style charged with positive affect may lead to lasting work success. By incorporating play at work, it will also result in more productivity, creativity and innovation, higher job satisfaction, greater workplace morale, stronger or new social bonds, improved job performance, a decrease in staff turnover, absenteeism and stress. Decreased stress leads to less illness, which results in lower health care costs. Play can increase self-reported job satisfaction and well-being. Employees experiencing positive emotions are more cooperative, more social, and perform better when faced with complex tasks. Also playfighting, i. e. playful fights or fictive disputes, may contribute to organizations and institutions, as in youth care settings. Staff tries to down-key playfight invitations to “treatment” or “learning,” but playfighting also offers youth and staff identificatory respite from the institutional regime. Wästerfors (2016) has found that playfighting is a recurrent pattern in the social life of a youth care institution and sits at the core of what inmates and staff have to deal with
== Seniors == Older adults represent one of the fastest growing populations around the world. In fact, the United Nations predicted an increase of those aged 60 and above from 629 million in 2002 to approximately two billion in 2050 but increased life expectancy does not necessarily translate to a better quality of life. One qualitative research study found older adults often chose to engage in specific games such as dominoes, checkers, and bingo for entertainment. Another study indicated a common pattern within game preferences among older adults; seniors often favor activities that encourage mental and physical fitness, incorporate past interests, have some level of competition, and foster a sense of belonging. Researchers investigating play in older adults are also interested in the benefits of technology and video games as therapeutic tools. Studies show these outlets can lower the risk of developing particular diseases, reduce feelings of social isolation and stress, as well as promote creativity and the maintenance of cognitive skills.
The ability to incorporate play into one's routine is important because these activities allow participants to express creativity, Similarly, although playing may benefit seniors, it also has the potential to negatively impact their health. For example, those who play may be more susceptible to injury. Yet play seems to be a normal activity with animals who occupy the higher strata of their own hierarchy of needs. Animals on the lower strata, e.g. stressed and starving animals, generally do not play.
The social cognitive complexity of numerous species, including dogs, have recently been explored in experimental studies. In one such study, conducted by Alexandra Horowitz of the University of California, the communication and attention-getting skills of dogs were investigated. In a natural setting, dyadic play behavior was observed; head-direction and posture was specifically noted. When one of the two dogs was facing away or otherwise preoccupied, attention-getting behaviors and signals (nudging, barking, growling, pawing, jumping, etc.) were used by the other dog to communicate the intent and/or desire to continue on with the dyadic play. Stronger or more frequent signaling was used if the attention of the other dog was not captured. These observations tell us that these dogs know how play behavior and signaling can be used to capture attention, communicate intent and desire, and manipulate one another. This characteristic and skill, called the "attention-getting skill" has generally only been seen in humans, but is now being researched and seen in many different species.
Observing play behavior in various species can tell us a lot about the player's environment (including the welfare of the animal), personal needs, social rank (if any), immediate relationships, and eligibility for mating. Play activity, often observed through action and signals, often serves as a tool for communication and expression. Through mimicry, chasing, biting, and touching, animals will often act out in ways so as to send messages to one another; whether it's an alert, initiation of play, or expressing intent. When play behavior was observed for a study in Tonkean macaques, it was discovered that play signals weren't always used to initiate play; rather, these signals were viewed primarily as methods of communication (sharing information and attention-getting).
One theory – "play as preparation" – was inspired by the observation that play often mimics adult themes of survival. Predators such as lions and bears play by chasing, pouncing, pawing, wrestling, and biting, as they learn to stalk and kill prey. Prey animals such as deer and zebras play by running and leaping as they acquire speed and agility. Hoofed mammals also practice kicking their hind legs to learn to ward off attacks. Indeed, time spent in physical play accelerates motor skill acquisition in wild Assamese macaques.
==Benefits== Play has varying effects and benefits to human development. There has been an abundance of research on the effects of different forms of play and how they influence various areas of a person’s life whether it is a child or an adult. These benefits of play can have cognitive, social and emotional or motivational effects on a person’s life or development.
=== Cognitive development=== Physical play
Various forms of play, whether it is physical or mental, have influenced cognitive abilities in individuals. As little as ten minutes of exercise (including physical play), can improve cognitive abilities. These researchers did a study and have developed an "exergame" which is a game that incorporates some physical movement but is by no means formal exercise. These games increase one’s heart rate to the level of aerobics exercise and have proven to result in recognizable improvements in mental faculties
Social development and play
Play can also influence one’s social development and social interactions. Much of the research focuses on the influence play has on child social development. There are different forms of play that have been noted to influence child social development. One study conducted by (Sullivan, 2003) explores the influence of playing styles with mothers versus playing styles with fathers and how it influences child social development. This article explains that "integral to positive development is the child’s social competence or, more precisely, the ability to regulate their own emotions and behaviors in the social contexts of early childhood to support the effective accomplishment of relevant developmental tasks.
Social benefits of play have been measured using basic interpersonal values such as getting along with peers. One of the social benefits that this researcher has uncovered is that play with parents has proven to reduce anxiety in children. Having play time with parents that involves socially acceptable behaviour makes it easier for children to relate to be more socially adjusted to peers at school or at play Social development involving child interaction with peers is thus an area of influence for playful interactions with parents and peers.
==Further reading== * Caillois, R. (2001). Man, play, and games. Urbana and Chicago, University of Illinois Press (originally published in 1958; translated from the French by Meyer Barash). * [http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Encyclopedia:Play_Science Encyclopedia:Play Science] Scholarpedia * Huizinga, J. (1955). Homo ludens; a study of the play-element in culture. Boston, Beacon Press. * Jenkinson, Sally (2001). The Genius of Play. Hawthorn Press * Sutton-Smith, B. (1997). The ambiguity of play. Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press. * Burghardt, Gordon M. The Genesis of Animal Play: Testing the Limits [http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog/item/default.asp?ttype=2&tid=11089] * Wenner, M. (2009). [http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-serious-need-for-play "The Serious Need for Play"] – Free, imaginative play is crucial for normal social, emotional and cognitive development. It makes us better adjusted, smarter and less stressed, Scientific American. * * Nachmanovitch, Stephen (as Stephen Miller) (1974). "Play and the nature or pretense" Rice University Studies (July 1974). * * Gray, P. (2013). Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life * Gray, P. (2008–2009). [http://blogs.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/200903/social-play-and-the-genesis-democracy "Social Play and the Genesis of Democracy"], [http://blogs.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/200811/the-value-play-i-the-definition-play-provides-clues-its-purposes "The Value of Play I: The Definition of Play Provides Clues to Its Purposes"], [http://blogs.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/200812/the-value-play-ii-how-play-promotes-reasoning-in-children-and-adults "The Value of Play II: How Play Promotes Reasoning in Children and Adults"], [http://blogs.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/200812/the-value-play-iii-children-use-play-confront-not-avoid-life-s-challenges- "The Value of Play III: Children Use Play to Confront, not Avoid, Life's Challenges and Even Life's Horrors"], [http://blogs.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/200901/the-value-play-iv-play-is-nature-s-way-teaching-us-new-skills "The Value of Play IV: Play is Nature's Way of Teaching Us New Skills"], [http://blogs.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/200901/how-ruin-children-s-play-supervise-praise-intervene "How to Ruin Children's Play: Supervise, Praise, Intervene"], Psychology Today. * Howard Taras, (2009). Journal of School Health. Physical Activity and School Performance. 75 (6), pp. 214–218 * Kortmulder, Koenraad (1998). Play and Evolution: Second Thoughts on the Behaviour of Animals, * Piaget, J. (1962). Play, dreams and imitation (Vol. 24). New York: Norton * Bateson, Gregory. (1955). A theory of play and fantasy. Psychiatric research reports,2(39), 39-51. Reprinted in Steps to an Ecology of Mind, 1972. Chandler, and 2000, University of Chicago Press. * Stebbins, Robert A. (2015). The Interrelationship of Leisure and Play: Play as Leisure, Leisure as Play. Houndmills, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. *
* [http://nifplay.org The National Institute for Play] * [http://playfoundation.com The Play Foundation] * [http://www.ipaworld.org/home.html IPA World Home] (International Play Association: Promoting the Child's Right to Play) * [http://educationalblog.exploringchild.com/learning/creative-play Creative Play] * Brown, Stuart (2008) [http://blog.ted.com/2009/03/stuart_brown_play.php Why play is vital – no matter your age], TEDtalks, TED.com
Category:Behavior Category:Ethology Category:Learning Category:Childhood