Empowering our Future! Screentime vs. Playtime

By Zay Brignall, Groundswell cohort member

When I was a child my two cousins brought me up playing role-playing games (RPG) where the medium was paper, probability, and our mental playgrounds. I started this when I was 7 years old and the gravity of what shifted inside me has stuck with me til this very day. These games taught me about real problems, struggles and showed me that I could be the one to solve them. As a 7 year old boy I learned to make real decisions and I discovered that decisions have consequences. I strongly believe that some good quality imaginative playtime is essential for the healthy development of the young mind and spirit.

Now it is my turn to give it back. I see a whole generation of iPad kids who are spending all of their down time with their faces inches from an illuminated screen. This cannot be the best way for them to spend their early developmental years! If these kids were spending their time running around and “fighting evil”, solving problems, socializing within a whole world where anything is possible, the effect it’d have on them would last a lifetime.

My goal here at Groundswell is to create a collection of mystical, realistic props and costumes for children of all ages, and give them the opportunity to experience creative freedom and confidence. Wherever or whenever we might gather (birthday parties, after school programs, weekend festivals, summer camps) the children will get a chance to interact in a physically immersive world where everything is new and exciting, tactile and educational. I want to see their motor skill grow as they learn to shoot a bow, handle a wooden sword against an inanimate foe or run through an obstacle course to get to safety. I’ve seen evidence that there are professionals in the education sector who are interested in incorporating a more heavy guided playtime portion into early childhood development and I want to be part of this amazing movement.

Children have so much beautiful sparkling potential and how great would it be for it to flourish in a field instead of buried in a screen. I know that there are a lot of valid life lessons children can learn before they become adults and in this process I can’t wait for what I will learn from them.