Changing times: Children’s play and photography

When discussing photography with my friends, we realised that the play and activities of those born at the end of the 90s are different to people born ten years later, due to the changing connections of social media. Although in the past children would play and have fun, e.g. imagining scenarios and acting out imaginary scenes, using improvisation, etc. the outcome of these, when recorded, is now very different.

Although it is common for children to play and use their imaginations, when I used to play with my friends, we would record it all on a low quality camera or basic camera phone (which, for the time, was pretty good). This footage would only be for personal usage, and you trusted the other person not to Bluetooth it to others. In the present day, however, social media is a central part of our society. My friend reported that her younger cousin, when asked to play and be recorded, refused to because they didn’t want people to see it – in the past these thoughts were not such a problem, but nowadays with viral videos on Facebook and Twitter, and posting photos and videos being such a quick and easy thing to do, it seems inevitable that if someone does something funny or unusual, everyone else will find out about it.

This then brought us to discuss the nature of photographs – in the past they were more personal, capturing a moment to remember later, only for personal enjoyment. Nowadays, however, photographs are often more staged and for display, rather than a spur of the moment thing. We seem to photograph everything and share a lot of it online. People often take photos for the purpose of sharing them on Instagram or Facebook. The numbers of photographs taken has increased a lot over the years. Therefore although documentation is useful, staged photographs can hinder imagination and thus change the nature of children’s play.

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Perhaps I could look more into the restrictions of play via social media – this is something that I had considered earlier when looking at how older ages are less likely to take part in activities deemed more appropriate for younger ages. Fear of judgment from others can deter people from involving themselves in things that may be deemed less socially acceptable.

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