Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Limits of Play

Limits of Play

ally's picture

Undeniably, like all the passages we have read mentioned, play can help develop social skills, explore imagination and have so many other benefits. However, at the same time, play is also riskful and limited.

Given that play is riskful, should we then put a limit on play? And where should the limit be? Some parents don’t allow kids to fight with each other in case they hurt themselves. However, some experts said that kids can learn from getting hurt: know how to avoid being hurt next time, feel empathy toward wounded people and won’t intentionally hurt others since he/she has had the same kind of feeling. And often the truth is the more you get hurt the more you learn. Then, could it be said that parents should encourage children to fight with each other? There definitely should be a boundary between play and violent.

Moreover, beside all the risk of being hurt, there are also regulations and obligations that prevent people from doing whatever they want which also put limits on play. That’s why the passage ‘Playing in industrial ruins’ regard industrial ruins as an ideal place to play – because of its lack of surveillance and regulation.

For all the reasons, it’s easy to find that play is not as free as people used to think of it. However, all these limits can only be put on physical play and no one can ever define a limit for mental play, just like nobody can control others thoughts and imagination.




I think play is something that should be limitless, but practically, it cannot be. There must be some boundries that parents must put in order to prevent terrible accidents. For example, in the New York Times article Taking Play Seriously, the author says, "One of the strkest measurements of the risk of play was made by Robert Harcourt...who spent nine months in 1988 observing seal pups off the coast of Peru.


I agree in thinking that play can be dangerous, although I don't think we should be pitting kids against each other on the playground. Rather, we could look at the limitations of danger on a usual playground setting. In contrast to the dilapidated ruin, modern playgrounds have undergone a transformation to a cushier landscape. Blacktop is replaced by woodchips is replaced by old ripped up tires. When I visited my old elementary school, I discovered that the school completely got rid of the see-saws—probably because, you guessed it, a kid got hurt.






Play is going to vary across every culture depending on what is accepted as a norm. Unfortunately this in itself creates limits for play, but then there is also the parental factor. While it makes sense for parents to at times be over protective of children and infants, this sometimes creates restrictions of the multiple opportunities for learning and developing new skills. Since I am not a parent I cannot speak on what limits should be placed on children because I havent faced that responsibility. But as an aunt of 3 nephews, I go out of my way to protect them.

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary play means, "to do activities for fun or enjoyment" (Merriam Webster Dictionary 1). Though this definition sounds positive, I wonder, "Who's fun? Whose enjoyment?" Ally begs the question whether or not there should be a limit on play.