April 26, 2011

Adults need to play, too!

Please welcome guest blogger Dr. Julie Nicholson, director of The Mills College Women at Play Project, and copresenter of today's online workshop, Reconnecting Adults to Play.

Decorating digital paper dolls, Wii bowling, cooking over Skype with a best friend, hiking, “dress up” at the Mills Black and White Ball, attending concerts, taking grandchildren on outings, sailing, practicing at a shooting range: What do these all have in common? They are all ways that adults play.

My colleague Dr. Priya Mariana Shimpi and I, with the help of our research assistant, Shannon Fisherkiller, have been examining adults’ perspectives on play across the lifespan, from memories of their childhood play to their current beliefs about play. While 100% of the adults surveyed believe that children should play at least six hours a week and 90% believe that adults should play this often, only 39% of the respondents in our study engage in this amount of play. They report that pressure to perform at work or school prevents play, and many say these pressures have led them to play only minimally or to stop playing entirely.

KaBOOM! staff members play during our annual Play Academy, a three-day staff retreat.

Yet, when asked about the importance of adult play, they report a myriad of benefits: the ability to “escape reality,” enhanced problem-solving, expansion of their minds, development of friendships and intimacy in relationships, greater pride in their accomplishments, connection to valued memories of important people and experiences in their past, feelings of joy and a loss of a sense of time, and deeper self-understanding.

Our research further suggests that when adults are given space to discover the loss of play they have experienced, they consistently find ways to push back and resist such messages as, “There is no time for play in adults’ lives,” “Adults should feel guilty indulging themselves in play,” and “Play is antithetical to productivity and maturity.”  They begin to reclaim play as an important element of their lives, and in so doing, become more powerful advocates for play in the lives of children and adults alike!

To discuss the powerful role of play in adults’ lives and learn more about the findings of the Adult Perspectives on Play Project, join Dr. Priya Mariana Shimpi and Dr. Julie Nicholson in a free online workshop TODAY at 2pm ET. Register here!


workplace, online workshop, guest blog, webinars, adults