There is some value in reviewing
studies done with children because we were all children once and some of what
is true for children may also hold true with adults. In other words, ideas
expressed in these studies are worth looking into for adults.
A book by Charles Schaefer
and Steven Reid described the efficacy of using games for therapy and promoting
children’s learning. It makes a compelling case through case studies provided
from the authors’ personal experience conducting therapy with kids that games
are a highly effective way to help kids mentally (Schaefer & Reid, 2001).
A book by Peter Gray called Free to Learn: Why Unleashing The Instinct To
Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, And Better Students for
Life compares children from modern, western society to children of
the same age in hunter-gathering communities through anthropological studies on
hunter-gatherer communities (Gray, 2013). Gray claims hunting-gathering is the
natural way of life that humans have deviated from, and that it is through
free, unstructured, unsupervised play that hunger-gatherer communities enable
their children to learn and grow into functioning adults. References scales
(Taylor’s Manifest Anxiety scale, created 1952; and Minnesota Multiphasic
Personality Inventory MMPI, created 1951) that measure anxiety and other
disorders such as depression to claim that disorders in children have been on
the rise and this that this is likely due to not allowing children to learn and
grow in “natural” ways (play) (Gray, 2013).
More research would need to be done in order to further claim play can
held adults learn more effectively.
Similarly, another study on children by Hromek, R., &
Roffey, S. (2009) called Promoting
Social and Emotional Learning with Games: It’s Fun and We Learn Things
claimed that games are key to enabling children to learn social and emotional
skills. This study referenced several others. One was the book by Robyn Hromek,
Game Time: Games to Promote Social
and Emotional Resilience in Children Aged 4-14 which claimed through
evidence from previous studies (Smilansky & Shafatya, 1990; Connoly, et.
al. 1988; Fromberg, 1992 among others) that play is “the language of children”
(Hromek, R., 2005) and it enables children to adopt healthy behaviours in their
general life. Again, given these writings were focused on children, more
research would be needed if the same could be said for adults. However, it
makes the prospect hopeful that the same could be proven for adults later on.