A frame analysis was conducted on newspaper articles, news magazine articles, and the transcripts of broadcast segments on the need for and rediscovery of unstructured play that appeared between January 1, 2005 and December 31, 2010. This time frame was selected to coincide with the recent revival of interest in play, both among scholars and the public. The eight frames that emerged from the coverage reveal that the spontaneity in play valued by children and endorsed by scholars is absent from recent descriptions by journalists of play. Journalists did not frame play as a respite for children from daily life, or an “interlude” (Huizinga, 1971, p. 21) undertaken to escape the real world. Play as portrayed through these frames must be productive – a “useful pastime” (Chudacoff, 2007, p. 222). Descriptions of play by journalists support the “rhetoric of progress” discussed by Sutton-Smith. Play is seen as the “optimal state of being for children” (Gentry, 2009, p. 14A), rather than something a child simply wants to do for fun. Few of the sources consulted by journalists favor letting kids go off in an unsupervised fashion. Kids can play, but only if they do so in clearly defined spaces and according to clearly laid out schedules.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.