Makeda Mays Green: The Future of Play

For Part 3 of the Voices on the Future of Childhood series, we asked experts to offer their insights and predictions on what play will—or better yet, should—look like when families are released from isolation. 

From pandemic disruption to social reconstruction

Makeda Mays Green is Vice President of Digital Consumer Insights at Nickelodeon.

Arguably, communal play has faced no greater adversary than COVID-19. This pandemic has aggressively disrupted kids’ daily routines and recklessly challenged face-to-face interaction. From canceled playdates to restricted time outdoors, quarantine mandates have molded new lifestyles. Fortunately, despite a landscape marred by social isolation, all is not lost. Play has persevered and kids are resolutely taking advantage of evolved forms of togetherness.

In many ways, co-play via screens has become a paradoxical antidote to social distancing. Specifically, screens permit kids to physically distance while remaining socially connected. In the absence of co-located gatherings, screens have facilitated virtual playdates, birthday parties, interactive sing-alongs, and dance classes. 

Like screens, parents have also acquired enhanced roles as social partners throughout this pandemic. They have increasingly become spirited teachers, crafty companions, and engaged playmates. In many ways, the pandemic disruption has created space for social reconstruction. Family game nights are no longer reserved for the weekend, and sales of board games, crafts, and puzzles are soaring

Looking ahead, co-play in its evolved forms will continue as a steady presence in the lives of kids. However, outdoor play will likely be forever altered. The post-pandemic return to “normalcy” is predicated on the notion that future outbreaks must be preempted. To that end, public engagement must be restructured. School recess will potentially accommodate smaller groups and public parks may reduce allowable capacity. Large birthday facilities may deliver birthdays “in a box” and playgrounds may require sign-ups. Through it all, kids will still manage to run around, play hide-and-seek, and create new versions of tag. Inherently, kids are grounded in resilience, and there will always be creative ways for them to play TOGETHER.



See more posts in this series:

Voices on the Future of Childhood

Bo Stjerne Thomsen | Helen Hadani | Jill Vialet | Kathy Hirsh-Pasek | Kathryn E. Ringland |
Makeda Mays Green | Roger Hart | Ronda Jackson | Rosanna Lopez