True play is becoming endangered in our world today. Why is play important, and why is it at risk? What are the effects of digital shortcuts on development? This course builds on the material from the videocourse, Raising Children in a Digital World, and adds to it the development reasons why we need to preserve play in our children's lives.

Course Description

We live in an age of technology, with information and entertainment at our fingertips, and at the fingertips of our children. While this reality may have its conveniences and advantages, it can also preempt the time and space needed for play in our children's lives. Research is now confirming what age-old cultures have intuitively known all along, that play is actually a vital part of healthy development. What kind of play do children (and adults!) need in their lives? How do we make room for true play in a world ready with quick fixes? In this course, we explore these questions and discuss what we can do as caring adults to preserve play in a world that is moving too fast.


This course is suitable for all those involved with children and youth: parents, teachers, helping professionals. Although the focus is children, the dynamics and insights apply to individuals of any age.

Formats & Fees

This course is available in the ONLINE CAMPUS COURSE format. See Course Format Options for format delivery, access, and content details.

Tuition includes a four-month Virtual Campus study pass. See More On Online Campus Courses for further information on our two campus course formats (Self-Paced Study and Scheduled Online Class). Visit the course details page to register. If there is an upcoming Scheduled Online Class it will be posted directly above the Self-Paced Study button on the left-hand side.


Topics addressed include:

  • the definition of true play
  • play as the leading edge of development
  • true play as an endangered activity
  • distinguishing between true play and work or counterfeit play
  • the risks involved with digital contact and connection
  • the cost of extending our attachment reach via digital means
  • peer orientation and the digital world
  • risk factors and warning signs of a child in trouble
  • the developmental costs of digital shortcuts
  • developmental and situational readiness
  • the timing for digital devices
  • the adult's role in the digital world
  • challenges of parenting in a digital world
  • ways to preserve play in our digital world
  • structures and rituals

Course Outline

Session 1 - True Play Introduced

In the first class, we look at why play is important and how play serves development. We explore questions like: What does true play look like? When does play become work? How can we tell when play has become a distraction or defense?

Session 2 - The Digital World

In the second class, we take a look at how the digital world functions in terms of developmental needs, and we build on the first part of the Raising Children in a Digital World videomaterial to gain a better understanding of the risks involved. We explore the shortcuts that the digital world offers, and the effects of these shortcuts on development and learning.

Session 3 - Readiness and Warning Signs

In the third class, we focus on the signs of developmental and situational readiness for digital interaction, as well as the warning signs of a child in trouble. We incorporate the second part of the Raising Children in a Digital World videomaterial, exploring the idea that there is "a time and a season". We also introduce the vital role of the parent in reading the needs of the child and providing a buffer.

Session 4 - Preserving Play

In the final session, we bring together the importance of play in the wider context of living in a digital world. We explore the important question of finding ways to preserve the space for play in our childrens’ lives - a much needed discussion in a world where culture has not caught up to our technological advances.

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