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How Play Can Mitigate the Dangers of Tech

Next to a shiny new phone or laptop, the flimsy, loose-dangling paper ‘puppet concept’ may not look like much. But then neither does the human brain, pulled – dripping with formaldehyde – out of a jar in the lab.

When used in the course of communication, the paper hand puppet, in form and function, literally takes on a life of its own, and transforms the way both teacher and child experience their larger-than-life world. As you read this, consider that brain pulsating at home, happily hardwired in its owner’s head. And now consider the paper puppet, perched pointedly on a teacher’s hand as it begins to elicit a powerful, predictable response from a classroom of kids. These are moments of truth to power, when nature steals the show and takes central stage. Little Tech or Big Tech can’t make that happen in the classroom, nor in the home.

We have some very bad news. Today’s learning culture is being colonized by Big Tech. It doesn’t have to storm the gates; we’ve already let it in, Trojan Horse style. And it isn’t just the learning culture being targeted, dear parent. It is your child’s mind. For a hair-raising account of what is at stake, read Richard Freed on the “Tech Industry’s Psychological War on Kids.”

“These parents have no idea that lurking behind their kids’ screens and phones are a multitude of psychologists, neuroscientists, and social science experts who use their knowledge of psychological vulnerabilities to devise products that capture kids’ attention for the sake of industry profit. What these parents and most of the world have yet to grasp is that psychology — a discipline that we associate with healing — is now being used as a weapon against children.” - Richard Freed

Here’s the good news: In education, the one and only power source capable of providing energy, tools and a pathway to outmaneuver giant tech’s insidious ways is Play. While it may sound like science fiction, we had better recognize the fact that our learning culture both at home and at school are inextricably caught in Big Tech’s web, and we need to get creative to find a way out. We need to learn to navigate technology the same way the spider must learn to navigate its web, or else we will get caught in a web of our own. If we don’t help kids to discover and develop their own power to think and move early in life before they are exposed to Tech, they will surely get caught.

Technology’s breathless marketing prevalence provides stark contrast to Play’s quiet, self-possessed power and integrity. As the child’s only true internal GPS, Play is a gift of nature. It is energy form infinitely more beneficial and effective to human development – from cradle to grave – than the habituating and alluring distraction of laptops, smartphones, or anything else dangled in front of us and declared as “educational.”​

Endangered and open-ended, free and authentic, Play is the child’s birthright and by default uniquely qualifies as the taproot, foundation, cornerstone, and rightful scientific organizing principle of Education. Both young and adult alike require Play’s guidance to shape and navigate using their own personal learning capacity – an essential learning intelligence system that is key to the young individual’s development and ultimately his or her own pursuit of happiness.

If education does not empower the individual child to benefit from the fruits of his or her own strengths and labor, then that Education is illegitimate, an imposter. Without a deep appreciation and respect of their own power, kids are at risk – just like Education itself – to the attraction of Big Money. Play nourishes the individual, the micro and macro economy, and society at large. Thus, Play must be put to work, and made accessible in unprecedented depth, scope and scale. Without that intentional purpose to adopt Play, we will fall victim to the Technology juggernaut. The Play Tectonics platform inherently challenges the Tech sector at a time when Tech is going full bore in its campaign to sell cash-strapped Education on its presumed domination and manifest destiny. Anybody who may in fact see that Tech can actually exacerbate learning needs and challenges should look closely at our play-based communication system as an important, easy-to-implement, principle-driven solution for Education as the field searches for authentic healing roots and solutions.

- Jeff Peyton, Founder

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