The Value of Fun — Raising Digital Citizens
At the end of the day, if I can say I had fun, it was a good day. — Simone Biles
In business, fun is something that is often overlooked. Work is work, it shouldn’t be fun. School is work and there are designated times for fun — recess and lunch. Sports should be taken seriously. But imagine what could happen if we put Fun as one our core values.
Why make Fun a core value?
Here at Mazu, Fun is one of our core values. Making apps for children and families should be fun! If we want everyone to have fun using our app, we should have fun making it. And we believe that there’s something to be said for engaging in child-like games whether it’s board games, video games, playing sports with friends, or playing at the beach.
It doesn’t mean we don’t get work done. But it does mean that we celebrate when someone passes their driver’s test with funny gifs in our Slack channel, have champagne for birthdays, listen to music that gets us pumped up, and bring in treats and snacks for everyone to enjoy.
We know that we’re more committed to what we do when we’re doing something we enjoy.
How can fun help us raise digital citizens?
Social media and online news sources can be awash with negativity. It can be hard to feel positive or encouraged when we read through content on our feeds or user comments.
Unfortunately when negativity is reinforced so often, it establishes the norm on what type of content should be posted. No one else is posting fun, positive content and so children with mimic what they see.
By encouraging children to be kids, have fun, and let them know that it’s okay to share that type of content with their family and friends, we can create an environment of positivity. We are encouraging children to post the type of content they would like to see and talking to them about how their positive content will perhaps make other people happy.
How is social media creating an unrealistic idea of fun?
When we look at the content posted on social media, it is very much a packaged idea of fun. It is selling the idea of perfection that is unattainable and does not reflect real-life.
Children and teens get a skewed idea of what is fun. It could be images of people “shopping” at expensive stores (when the reality is they didn’t buy anything) or seeing videos of teenagers drinking and partying and assuming that in order to have fun, they too must also get drunk.
Even YouTube videos, Snapchat, and Instagram stories, even when presented as glimpses of real-life, are often planned out to a certain extent. And as we mentioned in our post about truth, are merely glimpses. They do not reflect the whole truth.
Part of having fun is celebrating our imperfections. It’s messy. It’s learning to laugh at ourselves. It is being real and authentic.
There is a disconnect between what children at first think is fun and then what they see online. Because of the re-enforcement of this staged fun, teens can get depressed when their reality does not meet the perceived expectation of what their lives should be like.
Why do we think school shouldn’t be fun?
When children start school, along with a decreased emphasis on creativity, there is a decreased focus on fun. Remember when you were little and all you had to worry about was which toy to play with? Or in the summer when you were set loose to play with your friends?
School is juxtaposed in opposition of vacation and for a lot of kids becomes not-fun. It becomes a struggle, they don’t enjoy what they’re doing. We tell them that school is not meant to be fun, and they in turn internalize this, disliking school even more.
Instead, what if we encouraged them to find the fun? To make it fun? Not in a class-clown or harmful way, but instead asked them what they enjoyed most about their school day. What they found the most interesting. Or how they could make their project or report more enjoyable.
Sure, school isn’t always going to be fun. But what about it is? Or what can you do to make it more fun for yourself and your classmates?
Why is letting kids have fun so important?
Having fun actually helps children learn. Children tend to absorb more information when they’re having fun. They’re more engaged with the content. There’s more emphasis on play when children are little as their brains are developing.
Games can also be more than just fun. They help children cooperate with others, learn to follow the rules, and depending on the game are there to help develop hand-eye coordination or problem solving skills.
It also has a positive impact on their mental health. Fun = happy. When we do things that are fun our overall mood improves, and when we’re perhaps feeling a bit down, we can go back to those things to help us feel happier.
How can we awaken families to love with fun?
We believe that part of creating a loving family environment is about having fun together. It’s about playing games, watching movies, sharing stories, taking on adventures.
What is fun will be unique to each family. Even within families, children and parents will find some things more fun that others. But by engaging in activities that everyone enjoys you’re creating bonds. Same goes with friends and coworkers. It is easier to build connection through shared experiences where everyone is enjoying themselves.
Teaching children to navigate social media is about helping them question the content they see, “Is this really fun?” “Is this the truth?” “What do you do for fun that you’d want to share with others?”
We think positivity is contagious. When children are encouraged to post positive, fun content, others will follow.