watching children play: toward the earth in bliss

evangelina uskokovic, theo uskokovic, vuk uskokovic


Watching children at play is favorite pastime for many elderlies. However, the growing safety concerns have prompted parents to become increasingly resistant to the idea of having strangers watch their children in parks and playgrounds. This creates an intergenerational gap in communication with potentially detrimental consequences for all social groups. Oral interviews were conducted and written surveys distributed that validated the hesitance of seniors, especially in the United States, to spend time at children’s playgrounds despite their finding the vicinity of children stimulating. Behavioral observations were conducted at playgrounds to quantify the positive and negative effects of supervisors’ ages on children’s play and thus indirectly assess whether there can be mutual benefits of making the presence of older people at playgrounds, which is customary in many countries, more culturally acceptable. Observations focused on the behavior of a pair of siblings showed that there is an increased probability of both conflicts and joyful expressions when the children were in the presence of a middle-aged person than when they were watched over by the elderlies. This has suggested that freer expressions stimulated in the presence of parent-like figures simultaneously induce the undesired and the desired behavioral patterns in the form of propensities for conflict and propensities for expressions of joy, respectively. This has confirmed that the observational stance has a critical effect on the observational outcome and that the age of the watchers has an effect on the behavior of children at play, with the age correlating directly with the calmness of the play, but also with a lower degree of exhilaration.


ageism; behavioral mapping; children’s play; playground; seniors.

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