I got the same feelings reading books with lots of colorful cartoons and things. I use to have a book with characters doing something with icecream so tall it's coming from helicopter or something. They all used to feel SOLID and REAL. Then I grew up and found that book again after many years. I couldn't see those characters and things as real objects anymore.
I haven't read this pdf but I believe other kids do it for the same. Imagination is strong and they could do and be anything pretending.
In the days before TV etc, what was the alternative? Sitting there with their minds blank? It seems obvious that pretend play helps them develop their minds and capabilities.
I always thought of dreams as being a lot of reprocessing and reinterpreting.
Either way, watching kids do this (which is fascinating and I will miss it when she grows out of it) makes me wonder why anyone would question the value of it. Just like physical play (running jumping climbing throwing etc) will prepare you for when you need it, such as when you need to hunt for food or avoid being hunted.
I once heard an account, the gist of which was, the man who first wrote the [authoritative] book on play behavior in different animals was unable to get tenure.
This was in the context of noting that play in general had been undervalued as a subject.
That sounds insane.
He did teach me to how to brew beer though, so his Phd wasn’t a total loss for us kids.
I think "externalize their imaginations into real what if this happens scenarios" is pretty much what I was saying, although maybe I am tying it a bit more to why it is useful: i.e. practicing for real things that could happen, so they will be able to handle those situations better than if they had never considered such possibilities previously.
Take a look at human history and consider how often we have behaved in antisocially as we harassed, harmed, or otherwise slaughtered each other by the hundreds of millions. It's not as if we're some ideal model that would be bad for future generations to completely deviate from.
Therefore my hypothesis is that it's equally possible something so dramatic and counterintuitive as the changes we see these days may actually be necessary to create a world we've only dreamed to achieve for millennia.
I'm assuming you don't have kids and only have limited interaction with kids in other social context. If we have friends over or something we try to put something on TV to keep the toddler occupied so we can have a discussion, but that's far from the norm. He spends most of the time each day playing with his toys, pretend playing, running around, etc. etc. - and again, I work from home and I'm not strict about limiting his TV time, he chooses to do other stuff the majority of the day.
That you have experience does not make your views universal amongst persons with experience.
I created a company, named "Kidoteca", to make games for small kids, the main idea of the company wasn't mine, but to me it felt a good idea.
But after I saw the behaviour of other kids when interacting with cell phones, for example my nephews and little cousins, it became clear to me it was a net negative, for example one thing I noticed: my nephews whenever they see me, they immediately demand to see my phone, and sometimes they get outright aggressive about it, after a while that I've stopped letting them use my phone, it got better, but after another person gave them a phone to use, all their bad behaviour came back, with them getting aggressive all over again.
We tried ABC mouse and it was OK. I'm actually amazed at how good she is with the mac touchpad. But in general I dislike that many companies are focusing on tablet apps. I just purchased a LeapFrog LeapStart specifically because it is not a tablet. I wish there were more products like this.
Heh, in Spanish we have the term ludoteca, which could be translated as "playroom". When I was a kid we had a dedicated room at school with comic books, tabletop games, card games and so on.
The play with dolls seems more explicitly pretend though. I dont think she saw adults to it first (though once she started, they definately joined in and reinforced the behavior though). She's still mimicking our behaviors, trying to feed the doll like we feed her, etc. But she uses toy bottles to do so, not the real ones, and she doesn't try to feed other real babies when she encounters them.
I suspect explicit mimicking and pretend play are something of a spectrum. We start trying to exactly copy the adult behavior around us, and then start abstracting bits.
The example given is how you practice and learn empathy by playing another person. It can also be used to practice and learn physical traits of inanimate things as if they were animate behaviors.
Animals are biological organisms which grow. They grow their muscles, tissues, organs, nervous system, and so on. They learn to swivel their eyes, and coordinate it with their hands. (Growth isn't a computational process.)
This can be characterised as "prediction" in the same sense that a gas flame under a pot "predicts" the boiling of the water. And "modelling" as much as a burn on the pot "models" the flame.
Play is a sensory-motor physical adaption of the bodies of animals so they can grow sensory-motor techniques to manipulate their bodies and environments.
It is in a very small number of animals do these techniques become abstracted into a discrete form of propositional intelligence. It is absolutely critical however, that this propositional intelligence is just grounded in sensory-motor techniques.
You cannot "build" a model of an environment, because environments are infinitely informationally dense (ie., they are continuous and any discrete computational process renders that density as an infinity). So "model acquisition" is a continuous process, in this case, a type of growth not 'construction'.
When composing propositions in 'propositional intelligence' humans are able to use discrete processes to form novel concepts, but that is rare in the animal kingdom -- and grounded in the growth patterns which furnish cognition with primitive sensory-motor concepts.
Also, it seems that even puppies have a sense of 'fairness' when they play with each other.